National Association of Small Farmers is short for ANAP according to abbreviationfinder. Created on May 17, 1961, within the framework of its First Congress, under the revolutionary laws and in its General Regulations it is defined that by will and express decision of the Cuban peasantry, it is the mass organization of cooperative members, peasants and their relatives, whose economic and social interests correspond to the harmonious development of the construction of Socialism; its projections are based on and oriented towards the fulfillment of the agrarian policy of the Revolution.
Peasant Congress in Arms
The Peasant Congress in Arms had as its most immediate historical antecedent the assembly of coffee growers held on May 25, 1958 in Las Vegas de Jibacoa, Sierra Maestra, called by the Commander in Chief of the Rebel Army, Fidel Castro Ruz. When commemorating the 20th anniversary of this plenary session, Pepe Ramírez, president of the National ANAP, pointed out that although the Peasant Congress in Arms had had a different face given its organic structure, the meeting of peasants with Fidel in Las Vegas de Jibacoa could be considered The mother of this Congress.
In this unusual meeting around 500 people in direct and fraternal dialogue with the Leader of the Revolution, exposed the prevailing situation in the area and the difficulties that were envisioned for the harvest of the coffee crop.
On September 21, 1958, the town of Mayarí Arriba would become the scene of an extraordinary event, in which, due to the special circumstances in which it took place and the agreements adopted therein, it would acquire special relevance in the history of the peasant movement. in Cuba; that day at eleven o’clock in the morning, in the dance hall of the merchant Juan Clavel, located in front of a small fence of roosters, the Peasant Congress in Arms was inaugurated.
The Regional Peasant Committee played a commendable job, serious, deep and organized, which made it possible for the assemblies for the election of the delegates to the Congress in Arms to become true mass acts, which on many occasions made them forget that they were at war and rather they seemed like festive activities produced by the premonitory feeling of liberation. This enthusiasm, given the full identification with the Rebel Army, was what made it possible for the delegates to Congress, including women and the elderly, to walk tens of kilometers, in many cases on muddy roads, in the rain, crossing swollen rivers and with the constant threat of being bombed and machine-gunned. Dozens of delegates from Baracoa, Maisí, from the ends of Guantánamo, Sagua and Mayarí, spent up to three days and nights to get to Congress; Many of them, who did not receive the notice of the change of location in time, went on foot to Calabaza de Sagua and from there to Soledad de Mayarí Arriba.
The main objective of the Congress was to serve as a vehicle and platform to show the full identification of the Rebel Army with the wishes and aspirations of the peasants and the firm decision to continue providing the most determined support to the movement that was developing, while also corroborating, and elevate to a higher plane, the support of the peasants to the fighting forces. This Congress would be a victory for the unity of all the industrious and revolutionary peasantry of the Second Eastern Front, and therefore, of all the revolutionary forces around the Rebel Army. Despite the existence of a state of war throughout the zone of the Second Eastern Front, it was developed under the observation of the purest democracy.
The organizational work carried out was constant, broad and deep; In this sense, all the members of the Regional Peasant Committee took on the task of mobilizing the peasant associations constituted of the need to carry out this Congress. A vitally important role was played in this stage by the activists of the peasant movement in their mission to transfer these orientations to the most remote areas of the vast territory of the II Front.
Antonio Pérez Herrero, alternate member of the Political Bureau, in the speech given on the occasion of the 17th Anniversary of the historic event, stated:
The organization of the Congress was not easy; we were under the frequent action of bombardments from enemy aircraft, there was even a tiny minority of declassed elements that, responding to the interests of landowners and some merchants in the area, carried out a campaign against its celebration.
The Regional Peasant Committee and the Agrarian Bureau responded to this effort aimed at sabotaging the event with the execution of a vast plan of assemblies and meetings, many of which, with the presence of Commander Raúl Castro, became true concentrations, in which the importance of the Peasant Congress in Arms was clarified, as a driving factor of unity, the strengthening and development of a thriving peasant movement, capable of elevating to a higher plane the aid that the Rebel Army had already been offering and as a guarantee of that once victory was achieved, the wishes and aspirations of the working peasant would not be thrown into the basket of oblivion, as had always happened with bourgeois governments.
On the fifteenth anniversary of the congress, Raúl expressed: “The poor peasant and the agricultural laborer soon understood that the Rebel Army was their army, that the Revolution was their revolution, and the humble man of these mountains shared their meager food with the combatant. and his poor bohío. He entered the ranks of the Rebel Army with his children, his wife treated the wounded, his daughter washed and sewed the threadbare clothes of that army, dressed in rags but championing a noble cause and an unwavering decision, to liberate Cuba from the oppression”.
Workers and peasants took on the task of building, in the midst of the war, schools and medical care centers where rebel emergents, health workers and doctors began an educational and care work that, upon the triumph of the Revolution, would spread and multiply throughout the country. Cuban width.
The presence of 201 delegates attending the congress, given the difficult conditions of the war and the lack of means of transportation, speaks eloquently of the organizational work carried out, the extraordinary enthusiasm prevailing among the peasant masses and the responsibility with which the delegates assumed the mandate given by his peers. The importance given to this congress by the rebel Command is evidenced by the fact that it was chaired by the Front’s chief commander, Raúl Castro Ruz. Along with the guerrilla chief, the presidency of the historic event was made up of the members of the Regional Peasant Committee, headed by its president, Pepe Ramírez; the head of the Agrarian Bureau Captain José Serguera Riveríand a large group of members of the General Staff and heads of departments attached to the command, among them, Commanders Carlos Jiménez Fonseca, Reynerio Jiménez and Léster Rodríguez, Captains Antonio Pérez Herrero and Augusto Martínez Sánchez, Lieutenant José Cuza and Vilma Espín.
The congress made a deep advance of the critical political, economic and social situation suffered by the nation and particularly, the peasantry; constituted a vibrant denunciation of Cuba’s economic dependence on Yankee imperialism, the monopolization of its main wealth and the fundamental means of production, crudely raised the terrible situation of misery and helplessness to which the population of the mountainous areas was subjected, advocated for the strengthening of the worker and peasant alliance, he specified the struggle for the demands, reunification of both sectors, the implementation of a genuine agrarian reform, the right to possession of the land by those who work it and the victorious culmination of the insurrectionary process.
A valuable contribution was offered, both in the drafting of the report and in the elaboration of the Declaration of Principles and the General Regulations approved in the congress by the peasant leader (founder of the National Peasant Association of Cuba) Romárico Cordero Garcés who, in addition, had had an active participation in the preparatory work of the event. Referring to this on the 15th anniversary of this congress, Raúl Castro expressed:
Romárico Cordero gave his best efforts and fought his last battles, in his old age, together with us in these mountains, and his experience as a veteran fighter in the preparation of the Peasant Congress in Arms and in the preparation and mobilization of the peasantry in this region.
During the interventions and exhibitions of the men and women gathered there, it was possible to contact that the peasantry freely expressed their ideas, without prejudice, without fear; there they denounced by name the figureheads who besieged their children’s piece of bread, the landowners and landowners who constantly threatened to evict them, the extortions of which they were victims by the garroteros, the lack of fixed prices for their crops, the abuses, robberies and speculation that had spread mercilessly throughout that region; They denounced the games of the collegiate associations of coffee growers, settlers, potato growers and others, lacking the support of the peasant masses, whose sole objective was to prevent the unity of the peasant movement; They also denounced the non-existence of aid houses, hospitals and medical assistance in the fields, the lack of roads to facilitate the transportation of their products, the lack of credit policy; they raised the need to build schools, as well as other economic and social demands.
Unforgettable for all those present were the moments of the announcement that the Commander, head of the Frank País Second Eastern Front, Raúl Castro Ruz, would be in charge of the conclusions of this congress.
Visibly moved and in absolute silence, the young revolutionary leader, on whose shoulders rested a tremendous political and military responsibility as head of those lands liberated from tyranny, wrote another page in the history of the country, beginning his vibrant improvised speech with words exciting:
Today, September 21, 1958, has been and will be for a long time a memorable day for you, for us, for the Cuban Revolution”…
Never, since Cuba is Cuba, never, I repeat, have we witnessed a peasant congress, a congress of revolutionary peasants in the middle of a war…” At 10:45 at night, the order of the day exhausted, with the enlightening speech delivered by Raúl, the Peasant Congress in Arms concluded its work.
Among the achievements obtained are the triumph of the unity and the most revolutionary positions of the peasantry, raised to a higher level the links and cooperation of the peasants and the rural population with the commanders and combatants of the Rebel Army, promoted the work of strengthening and development of the peasant movement in the liberated territory with influences in the adjoining areas, it was projected for the development of the youth and women’s movement, it elaborated a concrete plan of demands that would lead to the realization of a true Agrarian Reform.
Barely twenty days after that act, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, signed in the Sierra Maestra, on October 10, on the 80th anniversary of the Grito de Yara and as a tribute to the glorious anniversary, Law No. 3 on the right from the peasants to the land, put into force immediately in all the liberated territories, as a firm sign that what was proposed by the peasant masses represented in Congress was already a reality, which was erected prior to the signing, in 1959, once obtained the revolutionary triumph, of the 1st. Agrarian Reform Law.