By Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES – Freedom or death was the slogan that was adopted at the beginning of the Cuban Revolution on October 10th 1868, as well as the dilemma put forward on February 24th 1895, to continue the independence struggle. Just as it was on July 26, 1953, when the attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba, and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes in Bayamo, kicked off the last stage of the Revolution that finally won freedom for the Cuban people on January 1, 1959.
In the face of foreseeable attacks from enemies of the Revolution, the slogan continued to be Freedom or Death, as Cuban revolutionaries have always preferred death before losing their freedom.
As Fidel Castro would say, in a speech that he gave in what is today known as Plaza de la Revolution, on July 26, 1959: “Our Revolution is strong, because our Revolution is invincible. Because we have a people willing to die to defend it!”
This hasn’t changed all the way up to today.
I believe we need to remind the forgetful that on March 5, 1960, in the speech given during the funeral honors ceremony for victims of the La Coubre freighter ship explosion, a terrorist act by the US against Cuba, Fidel said the following:
“Because Cubans have acquired real meaning in life, which begins with considering it undignified to not live in freedom, when one does not live with decorum, when one does not live with justice, when one does not live for something, and for something great like Cubans are living at this moment….
“And it is best to say so without boasting, as those who are truly determined to do what is promised.
“May those who, lacking the most elementary common sense, dare to consider as possible any kind of invasion of our soil, understand the monstrosity of their mistake, because we could save ourselves many sacrifices. But, should this happen, unfortunately, above all given the misfortune of those who might attack us, let there be no doubt that here, in this land called Cuba, here in the midst of this people called Cuban, they will be obliged to fight us as long as we have a drop of blood left, they will be obliged to fight us as long as we have an atom of life left.
“We will never attack anyone, no one will ever have any reason to fear us, but whoever cares to attack us must know, without fear of being mistaken, that Cubans of today are not in the year 1898 or 1899, we are not at the beginning of the century, that we are not in the decade of 1910 or 1920 or 1930, with Cubans of this decade, with Cubans of this generation, with Cubans of this era – not because we are better, but because we have had the good fortune to see more clearly, because we have had the good fortune to receive the example and the lessons of history; the lessons that cost so much sacrifice to our ancestors, the lessons that cost so much humiliation and so much pain to past generations, because we have been fortunate enough to receive that lesson – with this generation they will have to fight, if they attack us, until the last drop of blood….”
“And unintimidated by the threats, unintimidated by the maneuvers, remembering that one day we were only 12 men and that, comparing our strength with the strength of the dictatorship, our strength was so minute and so insignificant that no one would have believed it possible to resist; but, we believed that we could resist then, as we believe today that we resist any aggression. And not only that we will be able to resist any aggression, but that we will be able to defeat any aggression, and that once again we have no other choice than the one with which we began the revolutionary struggle: that of freedom or death. Only now freedom means more: freedom means homeland. And our dilemma is homeland or death”.
Homeland or death was the dilemma that the Revolution’s historic leader proposed to the Cuban people in 1960, and it will continue to be our slogan for as long as the threat from Imperialism exists, which wants to destroy our Revolution in any way it can, which would be to destroy our Homeland. So, we will never get tired of repeating: Homeland or death, We will prevail!