Of the 232 niches in the mausoleum, 74 are now occupied. Photo: Eduardo Palomares

COMPAÑERO Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and President of the Councils of State and Ministers,

Compañeras and compañeros of the Presidency,

Families of combatants who fell during the war of liberation or died after the triumph of the Revolution,

Beloved people of this municipality, who are preserving and consolidating the work born of the sacrifice and blood of their heroes,

Compañeras and compañeros,

Cubans are fortunate to have several venerable sites marked by our history. This is one of them, not only because of the battles fought here, but also because here lie our heroes of the wars of liberation, among the most outstanding of which is another Bronze Titan: Juan Almeida Bosque.

Shortly after the beginning of Year 60 of the Revolution, during which we commemorate the 150th anniversary of our wars of independence - or what is the same, the continuity of 150 years of struggle - the homeland again convokes us to a tribute at this inspirationalsite within Cuban territory, where we have come to inter the remains of 33 combatants of the Mario Muñoz Monroy Third Front.

The remains of these immortal patriots, some who fell in the insurrectional struggle and others who died after the revolutionary victory, return to remain alongside their legendary leader, Comandante de la Revolución Juan Almeida, in this mausoleum, located in these indomitable mountains which are home to, among others, two sacred sites: San Lorenzo and Dos Ríos, where the homeland's father and our national hero met their deaths.

Photo: Eduardo Palomares

Returning to this place, not to rest following their deaths, but on permanent watch, are three commandantes, seven captains, five first lieutenants, one lieutenant, and 17 soldiers, among them three heroines. Here they will remain on this hill's highest point, where they have forever reached the heights of honor they earned.

The foundation of the Third Front in these Cuban mountains reflected the strategic conception of the Comandante en Jefe, who considered decisive the opening of another battle front in the proximity of the second most important city in the country, Santiago de Cuba, capital of the then province of Oriente, where the dictatorship had concentrated numerous military forces, among the best trained it had.

The mission assigned was to harass, hit, and immobilize enemy forces, making the Rebel Army's presence felt in the immediate area of Santiago de Cuba.

The front's columns were decisive to the defeat of the summer offensive launched against the General Command and to the Rebel Army victory that culminated in its entrance into the eastern capital.

When the dictatorship attempted to destroy the Revolution with Operation FF, the most experienced forces were regrouped to defend the insurrection's principal bastion. There were the combatants of the Third Front, who participated in intense battles, faced with a notably unfavorable correlation of forces. It was the revolutionary spirit, firm convictions, courage, and determination shown by these guerrillas during those heroic days that defeated the enemy's plans to capture the Rebel Army's General Command.

As part of this unstoppable advance, the front's combatants returned to the territory and began actions, at that time, to tighten the siege of Santiago de Cuba and paralyze the enemy's movement in the area.

Battles like those of Cobre, the Dos Palmas Garrison, El Platanal, Tres Pechos, Filé, Paraná; the battle of Guisa, in conjunction with the First Front; the taking of Baire, Jiguaní, Maffo, and Palma Soriano, in addition to more than 30 commando actions, sabotages, ambushes, and rescue operations, clearly show the combative mettle of these guerilla troops.

In addition to the demonstrated value of the Third Front's actions in combat, it served as an example of the organization and implementation of measures to benefit the population that would be a prelude to the transformational work undertaken after the triumph of the Revolution.

With the surrender of the Batista forces at Maffo December 30, the enemy's last outpost between Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo fell, and the Rebel forces of the First, Second, and Third Fronts who had fought together, prepared for the final assault on the city, which did not in fact occur, since the demoralized enemy laid down its arms and the cruel dictatorship collapsed January 1, 1959.

The assigned mission had been completed: the defense of the territory was achieved with the courageous, battle-tested effort of the honorable combatants of this front, guided by their very Cuban, strong, enthusiastic leader, Comandante Almeida, and decisively supported by the campesinos and people of these mountains.

With good reason, Raúl stated and I quote, "With his proverbial loyalty, effectiveness, and spirit of sacrifice, Almeida completed the mission of creating the Third Front, and then tightening the siege of Santiago." End of quote.

Today, with this heartfelt posthumous tribute, we reaffirm our loyalty and fidelity to all who played a leading role in the victory; we reconfirm our revolutionary, patriotic pride in this beautiful history; we express our determination to give continuity to the revolutionary work, facing new realities imposed on us in a globalized, unipolar world and by the hegemonic intentions of a neighboring super power, that persists in its efforts to erase historic memory, and install here a platform for the restoration of brutal capitalism in our nation, in order to, with its neoliberal recipes, reverse the humanist, inclusive conquests of social justice and equality we have achieved.

We Cubans must return here, time and time again, to uplift ourselves with the example of these troops that always accompanies us, commanded by Almeida, guerillas who nurture not only this land, but our patriotic sentiments as well.

Before these gravestones, we reaffirm with devotion and respect, that nothing will defeat the Cuban people in our resolve to defend and construct a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous, and sustainable nation.

This is a way of stating that we have not forgotten, and will not allow fissures or distortions of our historic memory, because the legacy is immense, of values, revolutionary sentiments, sacrifice, altruism, and examples that support us in understanding from where we come, who we are, and above all, to strengthen ourselves in the commitment to what we must do to protect, defend, consolidate, and perfect our conquests, because what happens today cannot be separated from the root that nurtures and unites us.

This way, we fulfill the precept of Martí that "to honor honors." We honor our heroes and martyrs, all those who contributed with action and concrete accomplishments; we honor our founders, our heroic and combative people, the historic generation that achieved the dream and made it a reality, Fidel and Raúl; and this way we honor the Homeland, the Revolution, and our socialism.

But this valid way of paying tribute on significant days must be reproduced and expressed in daily honors, that we must offer with creative, innovative work, with increased efficiency in production and services, with the creation of wealth and savings - counting on the contributions of all economic actors, all forms of property ownership and management, in order to, all united, mitigate the consequences of the cruel imperialist blockade and overcome material shortcomings that impact the economy and affect the quality of daily life of our people.

Cuba defends with pride its heroes, just as one day they defended our independence. This is, and will be, the eternal commitment of loyal Cubans to the progenitors of our heritage: safeguard the sovereignty of our country. Cuba was, one day, because of them, free, and today and tomorrow will continue to be so, also because of them. Because their example calls us and guides us, because we made their victory our own, and it is up to us to make it eternal.

Consistent with their life's work, we must counterpoise their responsible, educated, decent conduct - the antithesis of vulgarity and banality - to indiscipline, illegality, and corruption, to root out the nefarious behaviors that damage and create obstacles to the honorable accomplishments of the Cuban Revolution.

Based on these, and other reasons, is our capacity to overcome adversity, grow, and surpass ourselves, to make our conquests sustainable, durable, better, and enduring.

To this task, our President, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, calls us; our history of almost 150 years of revolutionary struggle calls us.

This will be the best of tributes and the most consistent with Comandante Almeida, with the members of this combative battle-tested troop, and his brother in struggle, Fidel.

 Eternal glory to combatants of the Mario Muñoz Monroy Third Front!

Long live its founder, guide, and legendary leader, Comandante de la Revolución Juan Almeida Bosque!

Long live the homeland they freed!

Long live Fidel and Raúl!

Long live the Cuban Revolution!

Socialism or Death!

Homeland or Death!