Castro Speaks to Unions 4
72763.2240 at compuserve.com
Sun Jun 9 14:32:00 MDT 1996
Theft, not taxes, raises prices
Those sectors that do not want to pay taxes have created
myths and confusion in relation to taxes, to the effect that they
make things more expensive. What makes things more expensive is
theft, not taxes. And that cabbage which was being sold at just 15
centavos, or that plantain selling at five centavos, as we heard
here yesterday, did some tax make them more expensive? It's
production that was able to reduce the prices....
A taxation system is very logical and is supremely fair.
Don't ever let those sectors deceive a worker by putting the blame
on taxes when theft is the cause, because they don't want to pay
taxes. And we'll be in a fine fix if we allow a rich sector to
emerge, that could wind up having millions if we're not careful,
leaving us with the responsibility of paying for daycare centers,
schools, hospitals, polyclinics, family doctors and all the social
services provided by the Revolution, and which it would never
renounce. [Applause] We'd much rather prevent the emergence of
You can be sure that none of us shed a tear because there are
no millionaires, although we know many honorable campesinos who
have worked with the Revolution for many years, who obey the
country's laws, who are efficient and who do not speculate or
steal, and who have made a lot of money.
The fair prices that the state always paid, especially in the
case of those who owned enough land, made that possible. It
doesn't bother us that those families have high incomes. A person
can work honorably and also fulfill with pleasure his or her most
elemental duties to society. But there are some who charge
whatever they please for any product or service. They exist, and
they're getting rich. And now their money also has a value,
because whoever had 150 pesos before could get one dollar and now
they can get one dollar for 22 or 23 pesos.
Our rich are getting richer with the unavoidable measures we
have had to take, we have to understand that, to know that; but
they are also getting richer because the peso is acquiring value,
and that's not a bad thing. What is worrying is that the rich who
have easy access to pesos are getting richer, that's the truth.
However, we must point out that the wages earned by a worker
with his own sweat are also taking on value, although he or she
receives far less than the rich. We have nothing against rich
people, what we want is for them to not steal from the people and
that they pay taxes.
Some people say: "Why don't they set a price for their
products and services?" Who can set a price for them if the
individuals go to solve a problem here and there and deal
privately with somebody who asks how much it costs, and then they
come to an agreement? Who's going to be regulating the repair of a
boxspring mattress or an old jalopy? But we can say: You have to
pay taxes. Taxation is the way to recoup the abusive excess money
that some people are taking in, and under a sworn declaration.
And, of course, it hurts all of you and it hurts us that the
wages we are able to pay many workers in this country are inferior
to what some people here earn in one day. There are people here
who earn up to 500 pesos in one day, and more; such as the owner
of a vehicle who for moving some family, leaves them completely
broke, almost in the position of having to leave the furniture in
the car in order to be able to pay the charges, and you know there
are people like that.
Thus, I was telling you that we've introduced measures that
are tough, that are not adapted to our mentality, nor to our
concepts, nor to our things; but they are inevitable, they had to
So, the buses stopped in Las Tunas, and the horse-drawn
carriages appeared; they solved the problem, but the drivers were
charging one peso for a ten-minute journey, and taking in 3000 to
4000 pesos per month. The People's Power delegates over there
wanted to charge higher taxes, in line with what had been
The taxation system I'm referring to is not easy. It needs to
be very well organized, very well controlled, very well studied,
and those measures had to be implemented before the complete
organizational structure for collecting taxes was set up. But it
has been organized and it has been prepared to collect the taxes,
and we have to collect them, because if all the money is
accumulated in the hands of a few people in a short time, how are
we going to improve somebody's wages, given the great needs that
we have at this time? We haven't had as much success with
everything as we have had with the cabbages and plantains,
although one day we will have that success with many things.
But one thing is for sure already: as production levels have
increased, in the UBPCs, in the cooperatives, among the
campesinos, and even in the victory gardens, the crops grown for a
workplace's own consumption, the organic farms, prices in the
farmers' markets have seen a parallel drop, as you all know. And
they have fallen not only because of increased production, but
also because there is less money in circulation, and somebody who
bought a mango for 20 pesos on the first day won't buy it now for
more than one peso....
Nevertheless, it's very important that you understand that
the money in circulation has not been reduced sufficiently. I
already said that in the first year we brought in almost two
billion pesos, the second year it was about half that amount; in
short, of the almost 12 billion originally in circulation, about
2.8 billion pesos has been recovered....
One of the issues that we have to introduce into our
compatriots' consciousness is taxation, something we're not
accustomed to in this country, and far less after 37 years of the
Revolution. I'm not talking about across-the-board taxation,
that's not what's important; it was fully discussed by the CTC in
the context of social security, and you have seen how that
budget's growing, so that some contribution from the workers was
essential. It was even agreed upon. We haven't wanted to rush into
that, especially in a situation where money is growing more
scarce, but we are ready to implement it at any time. That measure
has not been applied in haste.
However, there are problems that we must solve. The social
security system has to be backed in some way, as it is something
that's growing steadily more expensive, and which, in some
aspects, has been abused.
We heard and painfully learned that the number of people
retired for total disability has dramatically increased. We have
even thought about the idea of reviewing those cases, at least for
educational purposes, covering a number of years, because the
concept that one third of the retired persons were declared
totally incapacitated before reaching retirement age demonstrates
disorganization, demonstrates a lack of control, demonstrates the
immorality of some doctors who are signing certificates, and the
lack of an appropriate mechanism so that retirement for reasons of
total disability is granted only in necessary and genuine
Still need to reduce excess currency
There is one thing about which we must all be convinced: we
cannot return to the situation we had at one point. We cannot
renounce the need to reduce the currency in circulation to
suitable amounts, if we want the peso to continue increasing its
value, it we want investors who could be our partners to have
confidence in us.
That was a movement which was gaining a lot of strength, the
demand for investments, advancing rapidly. As I also explained to
you yesterday, tourism and other things have been growing, despite
the unending pressures and measures imposed by the United States.
Something useful took place with the increased valuation of
the peso, the confidence established in those credits, in those
loans and everything. And I want you to know that no other country
has achieved what we have in terms of increasing the value of its
national currency in the course of a year and a half.
This year, 1996, completes almost the second year of that. No
other country has achieved it, and when we explain to visitors,
businesspeople, that the country achieved that, they can hardly
believe that the peso could have gained so much in value....
That boosts confidence, that stimulates loans, financing,
joint ventures and all the activities with which we are defending
Of course, there are factors which help us. Our neighbors to
the North are increasingly making themselves into everybody's
enemies; they are more and more hegemonic and arrogant, meriting
the whole world's bad will and lack of understanding. And the
world doesn't want to be ruled as badly as it is being ruled now,
because the United States rules the world but is ruling it badly,
and every day more people make up their minds to ignore the United
States, to defy it, to fight against it.
This does not mean that we underestimate its strength, which
is very great and very influential. But we see the number of
disgusted people in the world growing like wildfire, and people
are coming up with new ways to invest in Cuba and do business in
Cuba one way or another. Since the measures taken by the United
States are more and more absurd, we see this sentiment, I repeat,
growing in the world.
The Helms-Burton Act has the purpose of halting all of that,
of keeping a single cent from being lent to Cuba, of making sure
that no one dares to invest in Cuba....
E-mail from: Jonathan E. Flanders, 09-Jun-1996
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