[Marxism] Notes on Fidel Castro's speech to the Cuban people tonight

Moussa Traore gtmous at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 18 10:44:50 MST 2005

Thank you to Walter Lippmann for making these details
on Castro's speech available.

 --- Walter Lippmann <walterlx at earthlink.net> a
écrit : 
> by Walter Lippmann, CubaNews, March 17, 2005
> Through the miracle of the internet it is now
> possible to listen
> to major speeches of the Cuban leadership live when
> they're given
> via the Internet. Tonight Fidel Castro spoke for
> just under three
> hours to a meeting of leaders of the Communist Party
> of Cuba, the
> Young Communist League, and the various mass
> organizations. His
> remarks were broadcast live on Cuban television and
> radio. There
> will be more detailed reports in the Cuban media
> tomorrow, but a
> few items were of particular interest from what I
> heard of the
> remarks, which covered a wide range of issues. When
> I left Cuba
> on the 5th, it seemed the most hopeful thing which
> could happen
> was a positive turnaround in the island's economic
> situation
> That's what's reflected in tonight's speech by Fidel
> Castro.
> Given the timing and the buildup, I'd wondered if
> the speech was
> n some way a response to the UN Human Rights
> Commission and the 
> political battle being waged there. The US State
> Department and 
> the media which cooperate with it did their best in
> this regard 
> by making a statement (the US government made a
> statement, the
> US media wrote long articles about the Cuban
> opposition, though
> they had to admit that the opposition is sharply
> divided among
> themselves. Fidel even alluded to them at the start
> of his
> remarks by mentioning Marta Beatriz Roque and
> Oswaldo Paya, 
> Washington's favorite members of the Cuban
> opposition. These
> are people who are mentioned rarely or never in
> Cuba's media.
> Fidel even laughed and wondered how it would all be
> reported 
> in the MIAMI HERALD tomorrow. 
> Among the most important was his announcement of a
> revaluation
> UP of the regular Cuban peso, which is referred to
> on the island
> as Moneda Nacional (National Currency or "MN"), as
> distinguished
> from the Cuban Convertible Pesos (often referred to
> simply as
> "Convertibles" or "CUC". Convertible pesos, which
> are pegged on
> the island as equivalent to the United States
> dollar, have long
> been referred to in Cuban slang as "chavitos". (And
> Chavitos, 
> by the way is the term Cuban children use to
> Monopoly money.)
> Effective tomorrow, the price for buying convertible
> pesos will
> drop from 27 to 25 pesos, while the price for
> selling regular
> pesos to exchange for convertibles will drop from 26
> to 24, an
> effective 7% increase in the price of the regular
> Cuban peso.
> New Exchange Rate in Cuba Beginning Tomorrow
> Havana, Mar 17 (AIN) As a demonstration of the
> strengthening of the Cuban peso, starting Friday, 
> March 18, a new official exchange rate will take
> effect in the
> country.
> The resolution by the Central Bank of Cuba,
> announced by
> President Fidel Castro during a special presentation
> Thursday evening, states that the rate will now be
> 24 pesos
> for selling operations and 25 pesos for buying in
> convertible currency.
> The document notes that the measure is in line with
> the
> strategic course set by Cuba to firm up its national
> currency.
> Fidel explained that while the value of national
> currencies
> everywhere are dropping, Cuba's is increasing.
> Readers will
> recall that last fall Cuba removed the US dollar
> from regular
> business transactions on the island. Ownership of
> the dollar
> remains legal, but there's nothing you can spend it
> on in a
> Cuban store. But the island went from three to two
> currencies
> at a stroke, and the dollar is more or less
> forgotten by now
> by most Cubans. The increase in the value of the
> regular peso
> seems clearly (to me) a step along the road of
> establishing a
> single national currency, though how long that will
> take is a
> matter for specialists and crystal ball readers to
> determine.
> This change is one of the consequences of Cuba's
> strategic
> alliance with China and Venezuela, which have given
> the island
> a level of economic stability it hasn't had since
> the fall of
> the Soviet Union and its allies.
> Long parts of tonight's address, which was, by the
> way often
> punctuated by laughs from the crowd as Fidel cracked
> various
> jokes, as well as various friendly interruptions
> from people
> in the audience raising one or another questions,
> were given
> over to continuing discussion of the pressure
> cookers and the
> rice cookers which Fidel spend to much time
> discussing on
> March 8, International Women's Day. Hundreds of
> thousands of
> these devices will quickly be made available to the
> Cuban
> population, particularly through its Social Security
> system.
> While the US President, George W. Bush is pushing to
> privatize
> the US Social Security System, Cuba's government is
> expanding
> its activities. During the Special Period, which is
> the period
> since the fall of the USSR and its allies, this
> system has
> taken on greater importance. While there's certainly
> been a
> social differentiation process which has taken place
> among
> those who have and haven't access to dollars through
> working
> in tourism or receiving remittances, homelessness
> and hunger
> have not been much in evidence. For those who have
> the lowest
> incomes, the government has special dining halls.
> For those 
> on pensions above a certain age, there are special
> diets and
> special allowances through the rationing ("libreta")
> system.
> It's this system through which the rice cookers and
> pressure 
> cookers will be made available to Cubans who need
> them most.
> Fidel also spoke about the steps taken to expand and
> secure
> the island's electrical system, which are aimed at
> reducing
> blackouts. Cuba is nearly entirely wired for
> electricity at
> this time, but there are parts of the country where
> natural
> gas for cooking is not available to everyone, and
> there are
> areas where people use kerosene for cooking.
> Kerosene is a
> lot more expensive than gas. Through the rice
> cookers, which
> are manufactured in China, one of the most important
> parts 
> of Cuban cuisine can now be made available and at a
> lower
=== message truncated === 

Moussa Traore 
PhD Candidate 
English Department 
Illinois State University 
mtraore at ilstu.edu
gtmous at yahoo.com 


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