Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has died aged To celebrate the life of this remarkable figure in history, we present a selection from. On trial in Santiago for leading a bloody assault on the city’s Moncada garrison, young revolutionary leader Fidel Castro uttered a phrase in court that would. Fidel Castro: “History Will Absolve Me”. Excerpts from his own defense, delivered at his trial, October Fidel Castro in ; We have fomented a rebellion.
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Never has a lawyer had to practice his profession under such difficult conditions; never has such a number of overwhelming irregularities been committed against an accused man. In this case, counsel and defendant are one and the same. As attorney he has not even been able to take a look at the indictment.
As accused, for the past seventy-six days he has been locked away in solitary confinement, held totally and absolutely incommunicado, in violation of every human and legal right. He who speaks to you hates vanity caatro all his being, nor are his temperament or frame of mind inclined towards courtroom poses or sensationalism of any kind. If I have had to abwolve my own defense before this Court it is for two reasons.
There was no lack of generous comrades who wished to defend me, and the Havana Bar Association appointed a courageous and competent jurist, Dr. Jorge Pagliery, Dean of the Bar in this city, to represent me in this case. However, he was not permitted to carry out his task. As often as he tried to see me, the prison gates were closed before him.
Only after a month and a half, and through the intervention of the Court, was he finally granted a ten minute interview with me in the presence of a sergeant from the Military Intelligence Agency SIM. One supposes that a lawyer has a right to speak with his defendant in private, and this right is respected throughout the world, except in the case of a Cuban prisoner of war in the hands of an implacable tyranny that abides by no code of law, be it legal or humane.
Pagliery nor I were willing to tolerate such dirty spying upon our means of defense for the oral trial. Did they want to know, perhaps, beforehand, the methods we would use in order to reduce to dust the incredible fabric of lies they had woven around the Moncada Barracks events?
How were we going to expose the terrible truth they would go to such great lengths to conceal? It was then that we decided that, taking advantage of my professional rights as a lawyer, I would assume my own defense.
This decision, overheard by the sergeant and reported by him to his superior, provoked a real panic.
‘History will absolve me’ — memorable quotes from Fidel Castro over five decades
It looked like some mocking little imp was telling them that I was going to ruin all their plans. You know very well, Honorable Judges, how much pressure has been brought to bear on me in order to strip me as well of this right that is ratified by long Cuban tradition. The Court could not give in to such machination, for that would have left the accused in a state of total indefensiveness. The accused, who is now exercising this right to plead his own case, will under no circumstances refrain from saying what he must say.
I consider it essential that I explain, at the onset, the reason for the terrible isolation in which I have been kept; what was the purpose of keeping me silent; what was behind the plots to kill me, plots which the Court is familiar with; what grave events are being hidden from the people; and the truth behind all the strange things which have taken place during this trial.
I propose to do all this with utmost clarity. You have publicly called this case the most significant in the history of the Republic. If you sincerely believed this, you should not have allowed your authority to be stained and degraded. The first court session was September 21st. Among one hundred machine guns and bayonets, scandalously invading the hall of justice, more than a hundred people were seated in the prisoner’s dock.
The great majority had nothing to do with what had happened. They had been under preventive arrest for many days, suffering all kinds of insults and abuses in the chambers of the repressive units. But the rest of the accused, the minority, were brave and determined, ready to proudly confirm their part in the battle for freedom, ready to offer an example of unprecedented self-sacrifice and to wrench from the jail’s claws those who in deliberate bad faith had been included in the trial.
Those who had met in combat confronted one another again. Once again, with the cause of justice on our side, we would wage the terrible battle of truth against infamy! Surely the regime was not prepared for the moral catastrophe in store for it!
How to maintain all its false accusations? How to keep secret what had really happened, when so many young men were willing to risk everything – prison, torture and death, if necessary – in order that the truth be told before this Court? I was called as a witness at that first session.
For two hours I was questioned by the Prosecutor as well as by twenty defense attorneys. I was able to prove with exact facts and figures castrl sums of money that had been spent, the way this money was collected and the arms we had been able to round up.
I had nothing to hide, for the truth was: I spoke of the goals that inspired us in our struggle and of the humane and generous treatment that we had at all times accorded our adversaries. If I accomplished my purpose of demonstrating that those who were falsely implicated in this trial were neither directly nor indirectly involved, I owe it to the complete support and backing of my heroic comrades.
For, as I said, the consequences they might be forced to suffer at no time caused them to repent of their condition as revolutionaries and patriots, I was never once allowed to speak with hustory comrades of mine during the time we were in prison, and yet we planned to do exactly the same.
The fact is, when men carry the same ideals in their hearts, nothing can isolate them – neither prison walls nor the sod of cemeteries.
For cxstro single memory, a single spirit, a single idea, a single conscience, a single dignity will sustain them all. From that moment on, the structure of lies the regime had erected about the events at Moncada Barracks began to collapse like a house of cards.
As a result, caetro Prosecutor realized that keeping all those persons named as instigators in prison was completely absurd, and he requested their provisional release. At the close of my testimony in that first csstro, I asked the Court to allow me to leave the dock and sit among the counsel for the defense.
This permission was granted. At that point what I consider my most important mission in this trial began: The second session convened on Fixel, September 22nd. By that time only ten witnesses had testified, and they had already cleared up the murders in the Manzanillo area, specifically establishing and placing on record the direct responsibility of the captain commanding that post.
There were three hundred more witnesses to testify. What would happen if, with a staggering mass of facts and evidence, I should proceed to cross-examine the very Army men who were directly responsible for those crimes? Fiddel the regime permit me to go ahead before the large audience attending the trial?
Before journalists and jurists from all over the island? And before the party leaders of the opposition, who they had stupidly seated right in fastro prisoner’s dock where they could hear so well all that might be brought out here? They would rather have blown up the court house, with all its judges, than allow that!
And so they devised a plan by which they could eliminate me from the trial and they proceeded to do just that, manu militari. On Friday night, September 25th, on the eve of the third session of the trial, two prison doctors visited me in my cell.
They were visibly embarrassed.
I asked them, ‘Who is so worried about my health? They could not have treated me with greater respect, and they explained their predicament to me. That afternoon Colonel Chaviano had appeared at the prison and told them I ‘was doing the Government terrible damage with this trial.
The doctors told me that for their part they were prepared to resign from their posts and risk persecution. They put the matter in my hands, for me to decide. I found it hard to ask those men to unhesitatingly destroy themselves. But neither could I, under any circumstances, consent that those orders be carried out.
Leaving the matter to their own consciences, I told them only: After leaving the cell they signed the certificate. I know they did so believing in good faith that this was the only way they could save my life, which they considered to be in grave danger.
I was not obliged to keep our conversation secret, for I am bound only by the truth. Telling the truth in this instance may jeopardize those good doctors in their material interests, but I am removing all doubt about their honor, which is worth much more. That same night, I wrote the Court a letter denouncing the plot; requesting that two Court physicians be sent to certify my excellent state of health, and to inform you that if to save my life I must take part in such deception, I would a thousand times prefer to lose it.
To show my determination to fight alone against this whole degenerate frame-up, I added to my own words one of the Master’s lines: I managed to get it to her in spite of the heavy guard I was under.
That letter, of course, provoked immediate reprisals.
From that moment on, all the abdolve were thoroughly searched from head to foot before they were brought into the courtroom.
Two Court physicians certified ms September 27th that I was, in fact, in perfect health. Yet, in spite of the repeated orders from the Court, I was never again brought to the hearings. What’s more, anonymous persons daily circulated hundreds of apocryphal pamphlets which announced my rescue from jail.
This stupid alibi was invented so they could physically eliminate me and pretend I had tried to escape.
‘History will absolve me’: Fidel Castro in his own words
Since the scheme failed as a result of timely exposure by ever alert friends, and after the first affidavit was shown to be false, the regime could only keep me away from the trial by open and shameless contempt of Court.
This was an incredible situation, Honorable Judges: Here was a regime literally afraid to bring an accused man to Court; a regime of blood and terror that shrank in fear of the moral conviction of a defenseless man – unarmed, slandered and isolated.
And so, after depriving me of everything else, they finally deprived me even of the trial in which I was the main accused. Remember that this was during a period in which individual rights were suspended and the Public Order Act as well as censorship of radio and press were in full force.
What unbelievable crimes this regime must have committed to so fear the voice of one accused man! I must dwell upon the insolence and disrespect which the Army leaders have at all times shown towards you.
History Will Absolve Me by Fidel Castro
As often as this Court has ordered an end to the inhuman isolation in which I was held; as often as it has ordered my most elementary rights to be respected; as often as it has demanded that I be brought before it, this Court has never been obeyed! In other words, not only in prison, but also in the courtroom and in your presence, they ignored your decrees. I had intended to mention this matter in the following session, as a question of elementary respect for the Court, but – I was never brought back.
And if, in exchange for so much disrespect, they bring us before you to be jailed in the name of a legality which they and they alone have been violating since March 10th, sad indeed is the role they would force on you.
The Latin maxim Cedant arma togae has certainly not been fulfilled on a single occasion during this trial.
History Will Absolve Me
I beg you to keep that circumstance well in mind. What is more, these devices were in any case quite useless; my brave comrades, with unprecedented patriotism, did their duty to the utmost. Then, addressing the Court with impressive courage, they denounced the hideous crimes committed upon the bodies of our brothers. Although absent from Court, I was able, casteo my prison cell, to follow the trial in all its details. And I have the convicts at Boniato Prison to thank for this.
In spite of all threats, these men found ingenious means acstro getting newspaper clippings and all kinds of information to me.