April 15-19, 2021
Cuba Celebrates Transcendental Anniversaries
On April 16-19, as the Communist Party of Cuba holds its 8th Congress, the Cuban people simultaneously celebrate transcendental anniversaries: the defeat of the U.S.-sponsored and organized mercenary aggression at Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) on April 17, 1961, and Fidel Castro’s declaration of the socialist character of the revolution the day before, on April 16, 1961, at the funeral of young people who died defending Cuba when mercenaries bombed the airports in Ciudad Libertad, San Antonio de los Baños and Santiago de Cuba prior to the mercenary invasion at Playa Girón.
On April 17, 1961 more than 1,400 U.S.-backed mercenaries, trained and led by the CIA, launched an invasion of Cuba at Playa Girón, located in the south-central region of Cuba. The invasion force was spearheaded by the notorious Brigade 2506 comprised of henchmen of the former U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, as well as terrorists and deposed oligarchs. The aim of the invasion was to overthrow the young revolution that had triumphed on January 1, 1959. Less than three days later on April 19, the invaders had been soundly defeated by the Cuban revolutionary forces.
The 1,400 mercenaries who landed at Playa Girón were poorly organized and ill-equipped. They harboured grand illusions that the Cuban people shared their enmity toward the revolution and would welcome them with open arms. These illusions were abruptly shattered by the reality that the Cuban people were united with Fidel and the army and would not permit Cuba to become a U.S. colony once again. The battle at Playa Girón marked the first time the government had given arms to the masses (militias, workers, campesinos) to defend the sovereignty of their homeland. They rose to the occasion, playing an important role in securing the sovereignty of their homeland.
The actual invasion at Playa Girón on April 17 was preceded by bombings carried out from the air by anti-Cuba U.S. mercenaries at three Cuban airports on April 15 at Ciudad Libertad, San Antonio de los Baños and Santiago de Cuba. This prompted Fidel Castro to make the historic declaration during the funerals for those killed in the bombings of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution. As the funeral procession and march of thousands of people made its way to Colón Cemetery in Havana, Cuban flags flew from balconies and flowers were thrown from windows. The march stopped at the corner of 23rd and 12th Streets where the leader of the Cuban Revolution declared:
“This is the socialist and democratic revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble. And for this revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble, we are willing to give our lives.”
Referring to the U.S. imperialists, Fidel said, “This is what they cannot forgive, that we are here, under their noses, and that we have made a socialist Revolution under the very nose of the United States.”
In this way the Cuban Revolution defiantly announced its socialist character to the U.S. in the face of its impertinence and to the world.
Fidel then accused the U.S. administration of hindering the peaceful development of the Cuban nation, destroying its people’s economic resources and their citizens’ lives, and demanded that the United States take responsibility for the aggression.
“This Revolution is not defended with mercenaries,” he said in reference to the pilots hired with U.S. money who had conducted the bombings. “This Revolution is defended by men and women of the people.”
As Cuba prepared to repel further U.S. aggression, the people cheered Fidel’s speech and with their guns raised, affirmed their militant defence of the country and the socialist character of the revolution that continues to the present.
“Who has the weapons?” Fidel asked the crowd. “Are they in the hands of the exploiters?” The people raised their guns above their heads and shouted “NO!” “Are the working people a majority? Is it democratic to have a revolution in which the working people have the weapons? Fellow workers and farmers, this is the socialist and democratic Revolution of the working people, with the working people and for the working people!”
The mercenary invasion at Playa Girón was part of the CIA’s Plan Pluto, aimed at creating a pretext for the U.S. to self-righteously intervene and place a puppet regime in power. It took place at a time when the U.S. imperialists had already caused many tragedies through coups, military interventions and other interference in Latin America and the Caribbean. Thus, the decisive victory of Cuba over the enemy forces at the Playa Girón, regarded as the first defeat of U.S. imperialism in Latin America, had significance not only for Cuba but for all the peoples of the Americas.
In his speech on the occasion of May Day 1961 after the victory of Playa Girón, the legendary leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro said that the type of homeland that the imperialists speak of is a homeland of the parasites who live off the labour of the majority, of the few who exploit the many. The new Cuban homeland, he said, is one where Cubans had won the right to control their destiny and the right to construct their own future that would of necessity be better than that of the past. Referring to the U.S. administration under whose auspices the Bay of Pigs invasion was launched, Fidel Castro ended his speech with the defiance that has characterized Cuba to the present. “If Mr. Kennedy does not like socialism, well, we do not like imperialism!” Fidel said, setting a line of march which guides Cuba to this day.
The demand of the Cuban and world’s peoples that Cuba be permitted to forge its independent path, free from U.S. interference, be it armed aggression, terrorism, the economic blockade, etc., is as relevant today as it was in 1961.
Sixty years after its decisive victory at Playa Girón, the Cuban Revolution continues to calmly overcome every obstacle in the path of its socialist development, be it natural or manmade, while all indications are that the U.S. imperialists are more isolated than ever. The people of the world resolutely reject U.S. terrorism against Cuba and its retrogressive recourse to violence as a solution for differences between itself and Cuba or any other nation. The U.S. imperialists should finally learn the lesson of their ignominious defeat at Playa Girón and keep their hands off Cuba.
(With files from TML Archives, Granma International, www.fidelcastro.cu)