Fidel Castro, “The Revolution Begins Now”

Spoken: January 3, 1959 at the Cospedes Park in Santiago de Cuba,
Publisher: Revolucion on 3, 4 and 5 of January, 1959.
Translated: FBIS
Transcription/Markup: Castro Speech Database/Brian Baggins
Online Version: Castro Internet Archive ( 2002

People of Santiago, Compatriots of All Cuba,

We have finally reached Santiago de Cuba. The road was long and difficult, but we finally arrived. It was rumored that they expected us in the capital of the Republic at 2 p.m. today. No one was more amazed by this than I, because I was the first one to be surprised by this treacherous blow, which would place me in the capital of the Republic this morning. Moreover, I intended to be in the capital of the Republic — that is, in the new capital of the Republic — because Santiago de Cuba, in accordance with the wishes of the Provisional President, in accordance with the wishes of the Rebel Army, and in accordance with the wishes of the people of Santiago de Cuba, who really deserved it, Santiago will be the new capital of Cuba.

This measure may surprise some people. Admittedly, it is new, but the revolution is characterized precisely by its newness, by the fact that it will do things that have never been done before.

In making Santiago de Cuba the provisional capital of the Republic, we are fully aware of our reason for doing so. This is no attempt to cajole a specific area by demogogic means. It is simply that Santiago de Cuba has been the strongest bulwark of the revolution, a revolution that is beginning now. Our Revolution will be no easy task, but a harsh and dangerous undertaking, particularly in the initial phases. And in what better place could we establish the Government of the Republic than in this fortress of the Revolution.

[ ............... ]

My dear Compatriots, this Revolution carried out with such sacrifice, our Revolution, the Revolution of the people, is now a magnificent and indestructible reality, a cause for no uncertain nor unjustified pride and a cause for the great joy that Cuba awaited. I know that it is not only here in Santiago de Cuba, it is everywhere, from Punta de Maisi to Cape San Antonio. I long to see our people all along our route to the Capital, because I know I will encounter the same hopes, the same faith, a single people, aroused, a people who patiently bore all the sacrifices, who cared little for hunger, who when we gave them three days' leave for the re-establishment of communications, in order not to suffer hunger, the whole mass of the people protested because what they wanted was victory at any price. Such a people deserves a better fate, and deserves to achieve the happiness it has not had in 56 years of a Republican form of government. It deserves to become one of the leading nations in the world by reasons of its intelligence, its valor and the firmness of its decision.

No one can allege that I am speaking as a demagogue. No one can charge that I am seeking to assuage the people. I have given ample proof of my faith in the people because when I landed with 82 men on the beaches of Cuba and people said we were mad, and asked us why we thought we could win the war, we replied, "Because we have the people behind us!" And when we were defeated for the first time, and only a handful of men were left and yet we persisted in the struggle, we knew that this would be the outcome because we had faith in the people. When they dispersed us five times in forty-five days and we met up together again and renewed the struggle, it was because we had faith in the people. Today is the most palpable demonstration of the fact that our faith was justified. I have the greatest satisfaction in the knowledge that I believed so deeply in the people of Cuba and in having inspired my companions with this same faith. This faith is more than faith. It is complete security. This same faith that we have in you is the faith we wish you to have in us always.

The Republic was not freed in 1895 and the dream was frustrated at the last minute. The Revolution did not take place in 1933 and was frustrated by its enemies. However, this time the Revolution is backed by the mass of the people, and has all the revolutionaries behind it. It also has those who are honorable among the military. It is so vast and so uncontainable in its strength that this time its triumph is assured. We can say — and it is with joy that we do so — that in the four centuries since our country was founded, this will be the first time that we are entirely free and that the work of the first settlers will have been completed.

A few days ago, I could not resist the temptation to go and visit my Mother whom I had not seen for several years. On my return, as I was traveling along the road that cuts through Mangos de Baragua, late at night, the feelings of deep devotion, on the part of those of us who were riding in that vehicle, made us stop at the monument raised to the memory of those involved in the protest at Baragua and the beginning of the Invasion. At that late hour, there was only our presence in that place, the thought of the daring feats connected with our wars of independence, the idea that these men fought for 30 years and in the end did not see their dream come true, but witnessed only one more frustration of the Republic. Yet they had a presentiment that very soon the Revolution of which they dreamed, the mother country of which they dreamed, would be transformed into reality, and this gave us one of the greatest emotions possible. In my mind's eye, I saw these men relive their sacrifice, sacrifices which we also underwent. I conjured up their dreams and their aspirations, which were the same as our dreams and our aspirations and I ventured to think that the present generation in Cuba must render and has rendered homage, gratitude and loyalty, as well as fervent tribute to the heroes of our independence.

The men who fell in our three wars of independence now join their efforts to those of the men who fell in this war, and of all those who fell in the struggle for freedom. We can tell them that their dreams are about to be fulfilled and that the time has finally come when you, our people, our noble people, our people who are so enthusiastic and have so much faith, our people who demand nothing in return for their affection, who demand nothing in return for their confidence, who reward men with a kindness far beyond anything they might deserve, the time has come, I say, when you will have everything you need. There is nothing left for me to add, except, with modesty and sincerity to say, with the deepest emotion, that you will always have in us, in the fighters of the Revolution, loyal servants whose sole motto is service to you.