|SPEECH DELIVERED BY CUBAN PRESIDENT FIDEL
CASTRO DURING THE CEREMONY IN SANTA CLARA
HONORING COMANDANTE ERNESTO CHE GUEVARA AND HIS COMRADES-IN-ARMS, ON
THE OCCASION OF THE FUNERAL CEREMONIES HELD TO HONOR THEIR EXAMPLE.
17 OCTOBER 1997
Relatives of comrades killed in combat, guests, people of Santa
Clara, compatriots all:
With deep emotion, we are living one of those moments
that can never be repeated. We have not come here to say goodbye to Che
and his heroic companions, we have come here to welcome them.
I see Che and his guerrilla forces like a reinforcement, like a
detachment of invincible fighters that on this occasion includes Cubans
as well as Latin Americans who have come to fight together with us and
to write new pages of history and glory.
I also see Che as a moral giant who is growing more and more with each
passing day, whose image, strength and influence have multiplied all
over the world.
How could he fit below a gravestone, how could he fit in this square,
how could he only fit within our dear, small island? Only in the world
that he dreamed of, for which he lived and which he struggled for is
there sufficient space for him.
His figure is even greater because there is more injustice, more
exploitation, more inequality, more unemployment, more poverty, hunger
and misery throughout human society.
The values for which he fought will be raised even higher as a result of
growing imperialist power, hegemony, the domination and intervention
against the most sacred rights of the people -- especially the weakest,
the underdeveloped, the poor -- who were colonies of the West and
sources of slave labor.
His profound human sentiments will take on even more value as long as
there are more abuses, more selfishness, more alienation, more
discrimination against indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, women,
immigrants... when more children are the object of sexual exploitation
or when millions of children are forced to work. His example will live
as long as there is more ignorance, more disease, more insecurity, more
His example as a pure human being and revolutionary will continue to
stand out while there are more corrupt politicians, demagogues and
hypocrites in all parts of the world.
His personal valor and revolutionary integrity will be admired even more
while there are cowards, opportunists and traitors in the world. His
steel-tempered conviction will be honored while there are those who are
His sense of honor, dignity and his optimism in humanity will grow while
there are those who are pessimistic. His bravery will stand out while
there are more spineless people. His austerity, his spirit of work and
study will continue to grow while there are those who waste away in
luxuries all the wealth produced by working men and women.
Che was a true Communist and is today the example and model of a
revolutionary and Communist. Che was a teacher and forger of human
beings like himself.
Always consistent with his actions, he never stopped doing what he said
he would, and was as demanding with himself as he would be with others.
Whenever a volunteer was needed for a mission, Che was the first to step
forward. Whether in battle or in peace, his greatest dreams were
relegated to giving his life freely. He made anything that seemed to be
The invasion that he led from the Sierra Maestra mountains through vast
and unprotected plains and taking Santa Clara with a small rebel force
gives testimony, among other actions, of the things he was capable of
His ideas about the revolution in his homeland and in the rest of Latin
America, despite enormous difficulties, were possible. If he had
succeeded in his quest, perhaps today's world would be different.
Vietnam demonstrated that it was possible to fight against imperialist
intervention and win. The Sandinistas defeated one of the most powerful
puppets of the United States. Salvadoran rebels were on the verge of
achieving victory. In Africa, apartheid was defeated, despite the fact
that the regime had nuclear weapons. China, thanks to the heroic
struggle waged by its workers and campesinos, is one of the countries of
the world with the best prospects for the future. Hong Kong was returned
after 150-years of occupation, which began as an attempt to impose
drug-trafficking on the rest of China.
Not all epochs or circumstances require the same methods or tactics, but
nothing can stop the course of history; its objective laws have constant
validity. Che based himself on these laws and had absolute faith in
Many times, humanity's great revolutionaries and transformers didn't
have the opportunity of seeing their dreams come true as soon as they
wanted or hoped, but sooner or later, they were victorious. A fighter
may die, but one's ideas cannot be killed.
What was a U.S. government agent doing at the place where Che was
wounded and in custody? They believed that by killing him, he would
cease to exist as a combatant. He is no longer in La Higuera... Instead,
he is everywhere that has a just cause to defend.
Those interested in eliminating him were unable to understand that his
legacy was already written by history and that his prophetic vision
would become a symbol for all the hundreds of millions of poor people on
Young people, children, old people, men and women... they all knew him.
Honest people of this planet, despite their social origin, admire him.
Che is waging and winning more battles than ever.
Thank you, Che. Thank you for your history, your life and your example.
Thanks for coming as a reinforcement in this difficult struggle we are
waging today to save the ideas for which you fought so well, in order to
save the Revolution, the nation and socialism. These achievements are
part of your dreams come true.
In order to accomplish this enormous task -- of defeating imperialist
plans against Cuba, of resisting the blockade -- in order to achieve
victory, we count on you, Che.
As you see... this land, which is your land; this people, which is your
people; this revolution, which is your revolution... continues waving
the banner of socialism with honor and pride.
Welcome heroic comrades of the reinforcement
detachment. The trenches of ideas and justice that you will defend, side
by side with our people, will never be defeated by the enemy. Together
we will continue fighting for a better world.
HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE