Castro Speaks to Unions 4

Jon Flanders 72763.2240 at
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
 be established.
   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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