Eighty-three years separated the births of the two men. The first was a legendary figure when the second came into the world.
While one said that anyone who attempted to appropriate Cuba would be left with only the dust from its soil, drenched in blood, if they did not perish in the battle; the other shed his blood on Bolivian soil attempting to prevent the empire from seizing Our America.
Both were invaders from East to West; both died in combat; both are today exemplary symbols of revolutionary courage and intransigence; both are now close to us, and we close to them; both did what a whole people has sworn to do; they were born the same day: June 14. Chance could not have devised anything better.
General Antonio Maceo, Cubans of today, educated in your immortal example, would have shared the honor of being with you on that glorious day you responded to the representative of the Spanish colonial power: We want no peace without independence.
Che, dear brother: all your comrades in arms would have liked to fight with you in the Quebrada del Yuro and for the liberation of America. It was an impossible dream.
Fate had assigned our heroic people the mission of resisting 43 years of aggression and finally saying NO to the imperial government that threatens us and tries to impose on Cuba a new Platt Amendment, more ignominious than that of 1901. The people whom you helped to overthrow tyranny, is fighting today the most glorious struggle of its history against the government of the hegemonic superpower that seeks to destroy us.
Cuban revolutionaries, in the midst of the battle of ideas that we are waging today, and engaged in the arduous, heroic defense of the homeland, the Revolution, and socialism, today we pay special tribute to our two great heroes, with a firm and unwavering decision: we will all be like Maceo and Che!
(Excerpts of speech delivered by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, in a solemn commemoration of the births of Maceo and Che, held in Cacahual, Havana, June 15, 2002).
(Taken from Granma)