Castro Speaks to Unions 6

Jon Flanders 72763.2240 at
Fri Jun 14 08:27:00 MDT 1996

   No hesitation in discussing wages

 So we've gotten through these years, which were hard and
 somewhat demoralizing; there were errors, things that were done
 badly, and there still are and will be in the future. But our
 struggle must be implacable, we must come out of this congress
 like a brave army, which has been able to discuss anything. And
 there was no hesitation in discussing wages, although we know what
 many workers are feeling at this moment; they have needs, they
 have less money. Now the produce is a little cheaper in the
 farmers' markets, but we have to work very hard so that they get
 even less expensive and so prices don't go up again.
   We've made calculations to the point of exhaustion. It hurts
 us very much to know that there are sectors making a big effort
 without a great remuneration, such as teachers, health workers.
 The health and education sectors must have about 700,000 workers
 in diverse categories, including doctors, nurses, technicians,
 hospital personnel, 700,000 to 800,000 workers. A small wage raise
 would means hundreds of millions of pesos more circulating each
   We are happy to know that, with the measures taken during the
 special period and the new forms of payment, formulas of socialist
 remuneration, with the things we did in agriculture, the creation
 of the UBPCs and the improvements in the work of the state farms,
 it is possible to hear that an agricultural worker earned 11,000
 pesos in one year working and producing a lot; that the incomes of
 hundreds of thousands of agricultural workers have gone up in many
 cases, since they were, in addition, the worst paid in the
 country. This was an error committed in other times, when some
 sectors such as agriculture had minimum wages - I remember, it
 wasn't so many years ago - of 80 pesos a month, and of course
 that contributed to the exodus to the cities.
   Now the situation has changed. It's very good news that so
 many thousands of people have joined the UBPCs, the state farms,
 the various plans, and they are building housing, and they even
 make them from marabu', and we are producing a little more cement,
 a few more iron rods, and our plans to build about 50,000 low-cost
 housing units are being met. That wasn't a goal, it was an idea,
 but it spread rapidly, and we have to see how we progress.
   You saw what the members of the UBPCs in Las Tunas have done,
 the houses they have built, how they found ways to do things, how
 they have moved in. Really, what gave me a laugh was when he
 explained how he moved, even though he had a good housing in town,
 and how the union leader and later the secretary of the Party cell
 also moved in. That's the way to win the battle, there's no doubt
 about it. [Applause
   He did what he had to do to plant hundreds of kilometers of
 plants to serve as fencing when there was no wire. That's very
 important. To gather up all the cows running around loose and
 guarantee the milk for a town with hundreds of children, that's a
 feat and it demonstrates what we can accomplish with what we have.
 If there is no fencing, there are plants, and there are many other
 formulas our people have come up with and have been discovering in
 these years of the special period.
   We may have to erect a monument one day to the special
 period! If we keep on learning the way we have been learning, if
 two or three congresses more are like this one, we will have to
 start laying the cornerstone for a monument to the special period,
 [Applause] for teaching us to live off our own resources - live
 off our own resources! - and to take much better advantage of
 everything we have, that invaluable treasure which is our people's
 intelligence, knowledge and preparation.
   How much does that all cost and who has it? How much money
 would the International Monetary Fund have to lend so that any
 other country in Latin America could have the levels of education,
 culture and health that Cuba has today, despite the special
 period? [Applause] Just to do so in Latin America, that
 institution wouldn't have enough funds, and we have it, we have to
 preserve it, every day we have to find one cent more for this
 project, which we carried out before because there were resources
 and we wanted to do it, of course, but resources weren't the
 limiting factor. The limiting factor was our lack of
 administrative efficiency in investing and other things....
   We are a medical power. We are a cultural power, as a result
 of our modest efforts beginning at the start of the Revolution
 with art schools and all that. We are an educational power, and we
 became so principally on the basis of our own experiences and our
 own teachers. We have all the universities we want, we have a
 profusion of universities. All the university - educated teachers
 who stayed I'm not going to say that there are too many of them
 because they might feel hurt - can work and help us with their
 knowledge, their science. As has been demonstrated here in this
 congress, we are in good shape in many things and in not-so-good
 shape in others.
   We don't have an industrial culture, although we have
 advanced a lot. Others have the advantage of having an industrial
 culture in their habits, in their respect for technical norms. We
 don't have a culture for administration and efficiency, and we
 have to acquire that at all costs and develop with all speed.

   Promote men and women with initiative
   We need to promote men and women with initiative, because as
 someone said, "Oh, if only there were 1,000 comrades like the one
 from Las Tunas!" I'm sure that in this country there are thousands
 of comrades like the one from Las Tunas, like the one from Ciego
 de Avila, like the one from Holgui'n, like the one from
 Guanta'namo, like those from any province in the country. We have
 them, but we must discover them, we must promote men and women
 with initiative, ideas, determination, character and a vocation
 for dealing with people, because in the efforts talked about here,
 the subjective element played a very important role, winning over
 all of those involved.
   We had an experience, which was the war [that overthrew the
 Batista dictatorship in 1959]. The war was hard, going up and down
 mountains is hard and the sacrifices are great. Nevertheless, many
 people joined such a difficult effort. We wouldn't have been able
 to win the war it we hadn't won over the people. Whoever wants to
 win a battle, to achieve an objective, must first win over the
 people, and the moral stimulus is not only giving someone a
 diploma but saying "good morning," asking about the relative who's
   The capitalists, who exploit the workers, have studied a lot
 of techniques about how to win the sympathy of the workers,
 they've really studied it. We socialists, who see work as a duty,
 don't concern ourselves so much about that, or in general,
 socialists did not pay much attention to the individual. Now we
 are doing a much better job of combining material incentives and
 moral incentives. But that comrade could never have had enough
 money to do the things he did; it was a matter of winning over
 those who were going to do things with him. He even had to win
 over the affection of the cows, who were going to give milk to the
 people of Guayabal.
   For a long time we were too optimistic about ideas. Moral
 incentives were practically the focus, and actually we did many
 things with moral incentives. What our people have done is
 tremendous. And what about the 500,000 citizens who have gone on
 internationalist missions, what have we paid them with? I say this
 because we cannot underestimate moral influences in the slightest,
 even, I repeat, wishing someone good morning. This people has done
 great things with moral force and moral incentives.
   I think that now we are happily combining these concepts, in
 terms of payment for work, at least. I don't know if there is the
 same concern today about moral incentives as there is for material
 incentives, but at least in terms of ideas, in terms of concepts,
 we are clear that they must be combined.
   Now I am convinced that there is no moral incentive
 comparable to what those comrades experienced when they spoke here
 - many of them - explaining what they had done, the pride they
 felt. They're like the independence fighters. Everything they did
 was for honor, patriotism, pride.
   Let's combine the two things: people's satisfaction with what
 they have done and the benefits they and their families can
 receive from what they have done. I think that also is an
 important lesson of the special period.
   The path is really very clear. I don't want to fail to
 mention how moved I was to see all the different examples here,
 and permit me to say that the congress has had great moral and
 human worth.
   It's almost frightening to think about that worker who turned
 over - and he completed them today - 71,000 pesos earned through
 voluntary work to defend the country. [Applause] It's even a blow
 to the excess currency in circulation. He didn't spend it - and
 this is not a criticism of anyone who goes to buy anything in the
 farmers' markets - he turned it in. What an example.
   Equally moving was the case of the woman from Holgui'n who
 turned over 16,000 dollars. And the man from Cie'naga de Zapata,
 who turned over 20,000 dollars. [Applause]
   Don't you think that these examples will go down in history
 and symbolize this period? And we're not urging other citizens to
 do the same, it would be inconceivable, that's not what we're
 asking. But you feel pride and admiration for the human species
 when you find people so unselfish, so generous....

   `We calmly view enemy's maneuvers'
   It's admirable how ideas are so powerful that they can be
 truly invincible. That is why we here serenely and calmly view the
 enemy's maneuvers, what they could be thinking, and sometimes we
 even know what they're thinking, but we have the luxury of
 analyzing them calmly, serenely. We know they suffer because of
 what we've done, how we've stood our ground. We know it makes them
 furious and that rage can be dangerous.
   That country is also going through an election campaign which
 is madness. Politicking reigns, and that makes them dangerous. At
 this moment, people with the necessary character are not at the
 forefront. Sometimes we see symptoms of weakness which are
 amazing. The very fact that this administration would in the end
 support the cruel, inhumane, brutal and stupid Helms-Burton Act
 demonstrates an undeniable weakness of character and a lack of
   But I didn't come here to stir you up; on the contrary, I
 came here to urge all of you and ourselves to be composed,
 patient, to combine patience with intelligence.
   If there is one thing our enemies should know, it was summed
 up once in a phrase that went: "Intelligence must be accompanied
 by valor and valor must be accompanied by intelligence." Believe
 in the Party, in the serenity and composure of the Party, because
 we clearly see all the maneuvers and provocation aimed at creating
 conflicts, if possible, since they cannot bear to see Cuba's
 heroic resistance. Let's say it makes them heartsick.
   It seems that everything Cuba has done in these years, the
 trial it is going through, the successes it is beginning to have,
 cause very sharp chest pains and heart attacks. And we have such
 good medications for heart attacks, produced in our laboratories!
 Streptokinase is excellent and doesn't cause any clotting.
   The superpower, always super-arrogant, without - I repeat -
 the necessary character in certain circumstances, without ethics,
 is dangerous.
   The Revolution's goal is not to win wars, no. Its goal is to
 win a war if it is imposed on us; but we have no intention of
 promoting war or of being provoked.
   This country's situation is far from desperate, and for that
 reason we are calm, hopeful, we have no need for conflict. We can
 win our battles without conflict. That is, we do not want war, but
 no one better get the crazy idea of taking military action against
 Cuba, even with illusions about their technological resources. No
 one better get the notion that they could force this people to its
   No one should get carried away with the notion that this
 country can be humbled, or that we wouldn't be able to fight for
 100 years and all the years necessary. [Applause]
   We want and need peace in order to continue with this heroic
 work, but no one should get the idea of interfering with the
 effort we're making, or trying to destroy what we're doing, no one
 should get the notion of provoking us, because we have
 accomplished feats up until now, but this people is capable of
 feats much greater still. [Applause]
   This defines our policies. Our Party, our country have an
 excellent leadership team, in the Party and the government, in the
 CTC, in the mass organizations. We have everything necessary to
 achieve our objectives and we have the will to accomplish them.
   We want all those millions of children to be able to benefit
 from what we are building today. Anyone who attacks Cuba's
 interests is not attacking our interests. We do not fight
 principally for ourselves, but for children such as the one we saw
 here today; we are fighting for our young people, for our
 students, and we want to nurture our dream that one day they can
 live in a country like the country we know we are capable of
 building. We cherish the illusion that all that hope expressed to
 us by our illustrious visitors will never be betrayed, and that
 the symbol Cuba has become will be maintained. We didn't want Cuba
 to become a symbol, but the symbolism stems from our duty and our
 need, plus our enemies' hostility and hatred at the fact that we
 want to do what we consider just and noble, because what we want
 is the best not only for our people, but for all the peoples.
   That is why we like to call ourselves internationalists,
 socialists, Communists. [Prolonged applause] And they are going to
 respect us more because of it, since those who betray their ideals
 are not respected, those who betray their principals have never
 been respected and will never be respected. For that reason, we
 are certain that Cuba will be respected, Cubans will be respected,
 our people will be respected. [Prolonged applause]
   There are three things that fortify us, which have become
 very clear since the Central Committee plenum and since this
 congress: the expression of what we have wanted to be, of what we
 are and of what we will always be. [Applause]
   Therefore, with true pride we can all say today, so that no
 one can doubt it:
   Socialism or death!
   Patria o muerte! [Homeland or death]
   Venceremos! [We shall win]

  E-mail from: Jonathan E. Flanders, 14-Jun-1996

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