[Marxism] Fidel Castro - speech to the art instructors graduation

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 1 05:54:19 MST 2005

Here are excerpts from the remarks made by Cuban President Fidel Castro 
on Friday night. Last night a portion of it was replayed here on Cuban 
television.This transcript was also made available to everyone who was
ready to read it in a printed tabloid version sold here for twenty
Cuban centavos, which is less than one U.S. penny.

It was a remarkable presentation, including one very special intervention 
within the speech by one of the teachers who was called up to explain a 
point. Seeing this young girl, perhaps 17 year old, called out of this
audience of perhaps six thousand people to come up and address the crowd
in the middle of Fidel Castro's speech was amazing. She came right up and
got going, without a moment's hesitation or uncertainty. 

In addition to the praises due for hard work completed, Fidel took up a
large number of both domestic and international political challenges to
the Revolution. I thought those would be of greatest interest to readers
of the Marxmail list. Earlier that week some members of a Cuban chorus
had defected in Canada, so he took up issues such as "brain drain", the
Cuban offer of aid to the US after Hurricane Katrina, and much more.

And in relation to the US offer to send an "assessment team" to see what
kind of aid it might consider offering Cuba in light of Hurricane Wilma,
Fidel said these succint words:

"For instance, we could teach the government of the United States how
to protect the population in case of a natural disaster; this could
help save the lives of many poor people.

"I believe Miami is experiencing major power failures caused by the
hurricanes, that it's without food, without anything, and I know that
the 100,000 citizens here who were affected by coastal flooding have
been receiving food, have been assisted in every way possible and
that social workers are drawing up an inventory of all the things
that were damaged, to help them recover what they lost in as short a
time as possible. That is what we know is happening, and what will
always happen whenever there's a disaster of this nature."


Fidel also made special reference to Europ and his comments on the
50th anniversary of the Moncada attack. Read about that from a report
I made at the time along with Fidel's short presentation at that time:

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews

Address by Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, 
President of the Republic of Cuba, to the 
second national art instructors 
graduation ceremony held in 
Ciudad Deportiva on October 28, 2005


We must pay attention to every detail to make these schools a model
of education, discipline, creativity, ethics and morale.

We hope that all first course graduates who are still working will
honor their commitment to work as art instructors for no less than 5
years, as was first agreed, and that those who graduate today will
work for no less than 8, as they vowed, in that beautiful profession
that takes spiritual treasures and knowledge to all corners of the
nation, to children and adolescents especially, and which guarantees
a brighter and wiser future for all Cubans.

Central state administrative bodies must respect this commitment, and
refrain from usurping art instructors to use them in other areas, as
they did in the past, because this will not be tolerated.

And take heed, about this and many other things; we have the case of
the art instructors, for instance. There is also the case of those
who are graduating as physical education and sports teachers and we
are witnessing this pirate-like brain-drain there as well. Let he who
is without sin cast the first stone.

Yes, very few have not been guilty of brain-drain from one sector to
another. Party cadres, yes, revolutionary people who wanted to be
cadres but who didn't know a thing, who had no experience, who
weren't even experienced in the building of socialism, they got mixed
up in all sorts of silly things and entangled in red tape; but
brain-drain between sectors betrays a lack of revolutionary ethics.
"This is a good professor, so I'm taking him with me because he's

That's the way many teachers were taken away of their profession in
the first years of the revolution; they needed someone who knew how
to read and write, so they took one from here, another one from
there: "I'll give you this", "you'll be closer from home". There was
a kind of feudal war going on, it must be said.

For instance, the case of Cuba's Central Bank, an extremely important
institution that is becoming more and more important; they were
training programmers there, people versed in computer sciences, and
other state bodies, who weren't offering any kind of training, would
come to them and say: "I have this really nice hotel, there's a good
salary and tips in it for you". Or they would say: "Look, I'm taking
this teacher with me for him to teach this, that and the other". They
were always tempting people, offering them things, and these are
capitalist vices, capitalist habits, no one can imagine the number of
things like that that were done.

A society that aims to be different, a new society that sets high
goals for itself, drags with it all of the vices of that corrupt
society it wishes to change. These vices weigh down on it. Only time
and work, if one works hard can make the difference. And nothing is
more common and widespread in the world than the mistakes of
revolutionaries, of those who want to change society or change the
world. That is why only a few revolutions achieve progress and no few
of them, of the few, end up failing over the course of historical

I believe our country is making a huge effort to move forward and
that this is perhaps due to the strength of its adversary, the
magnitude of the difficulties it faces, which have forced all of us,
in one way or another, to improve ourselves. And we will most likely
continue to make progress and to be in the lead as we move towards
that goal we call "a better world", the goals we have set for

What we were doing to each other was shameful, perhaps explainable at
first because almost no one knew how to read or write. Then, they
would go to a school and lure the teacher away. That happened for
many years and it happens still. Today, of course, they would like to
lure a university professor, but they can't offer him just any job,
any position like pushing papers behind a desk.

Central state administrative bodies must respect this commitment "and
refrain from the embarrassing practice of usurping art instructors,
as was done in the past, as this will not be tolerated". I don't know
what they could do with an art instructor eager to do something else
or who forgets his promise and wants to become an artist. The
instructor may have an exceptional talent, I don't doubt that many of
them will become artists, great artists even, I got this impression
when I visited that school in Boyeros. But they have a duty, the
revolution has trained them for a certain task and doesn't chain them
to that task for life, though we know that many will be so enamored
of their profession, young people like you, that they will devote
their entire lives to providing an education to their fellow
citizens, to forging revolutionaries, to forging talents in the art

The first program was a 5-year program, the second is a 7-year
program. Now we have radio and television programs, they're not from
the United States, they're not designed by the government that wants
to bring about a democratic transition in Cuba. Imagine a transition
towards the past. That's what they have in mind and, curiously
enough, one of the first items on the list of this plan coordinated
by a lunatic that -as I was saying last night- the illustrious
president of the United States has appointed president of the
Commission, or who knows what, for a Transition in Cuba, is to go to
Europe and ask for help with the transition from European flunkies
and, yes, no few mercenaries.

If Europe, if rotten Europe wants to help them, that's Europe's
problem. We say to them: let the rotten Europe take a shot at it and
see what happens. It insulted us once, offended us, pretending to
take away humanitarian aid it never actually gave us, what it got
from uneven trade and from selling manufactured products and buying
raw materials was much, much more. Just look at how expensive
anything they sell is, that's how they maintain sky-high profits,
buying raw materials at low prices, raw materials like nickel,
tobacco leaves, not even rolled tobacco, nickel to produce stainless
steel, etc.

I calculated the profits Europe was making through trade with Cuba -I
spoke about this in Santiago de Cuba, on July 26, at the 50th
anniversary of the revolution- and it's more than 200 million
dollars, money we gave them, and they were giving us three or four
miserable millions, which the generous donors spent in five-star
hotels. We warned them: "We don't need that petty handout", and, when
they persisted with their insults, the people protested, in front of
their embassies, more than 500,000 people protested in front of each
of their embassies, and so many people were out there that a third,
simultaneous protest march could have been organized; make no
mistake. And when they came, we said to them: "No, we don't want any
humanitarian aid", we can actually even offer it to you, because you
have less doctors per capita than we do, and there are people there
who go blind because they can't afford surgery and you don't have the
qualified professionals we do, nor can you send a team of doctors to
any corner of the world. All you can do is threaten to intervene,
threaten to bomb; and that's where the Yankee lunatic has gone asking
for a hand, to Europe.

What can Europe do to us? It can do nothing. Thank God there's a
country that can say that. A country that doesn't need the Yankees,
that doesn't need Europe. We are part of a changing world and we are
a strong revolution and a formidable people that knows how to fight
against its adversaries and to struggle against its own errors and
its own weaknesses (Applause).

Let them carry on with their nonsense and their mercenary ways. No
one will be able to place Cuba's art education in mercenary hands;
they will try, no doubt, to steal, and they do often manage to steal
talented people and artists (Applause).

You will be the professors of tomorrow, and so will other young
people who are studying today, artists who build consciences and
forge minds, who are not indolent or unconscious and forget that a
child who beings studying an art form when he is five, six or seven
years old, who goes through an art school, who has the opportunity to
study at an art institution free of charge, will later shine as an
artist, as the true wealth of talent we give our people will one day
shine forth.

A moral consciousness must be forged early on if we are to be spared
the ingratitude of some who reach the top of the ladder in the art
world and surprise us with their desertion; one day we get the news:
"so and so didn't come back". And why does so and so do not come
back, if not because they are lacking in conscience, in love for the
people who nurtured them and gave them everything, in spite of the
blockade, in spite of the sacrifices demanded, in spite of threats?
(Applause). They owe to those workers who cut sugar cane, who drove
tractors, who worked for endless hours, in agriculture, in industry,
anywhere; at a primary school, at a secondary school, at a
university, everywhere.

A revolution is the triumph of virtue over vice, the triumph of honor
over dishonor, the triumph of moral and patriotic integrity over
mercenary impulses and vice; the most those who cannot build values
on ethical foundations can do is to steal talents, because talents
are formed spontaneously in many of those countries, through the
initiative of the citizens themselves, there are no art schools for
everyone like here: they exist only for the rich or very rich. In our
country, they are open to everyone, without exception (Applause).

We were talking about teachers, those who educate, who create for the
benefit of everyone, and of those who steal from us and want to take
our artists and athletes, or our brains in any field of science. As
with everything else, they also tried to take all of our doctors and,
of the 6,000 we had, not all of them experienced, they took half,
3,000. This did not prevent us from reaching the figure of 70,000
today. More than 25,000, according to calculations I must verify, are
studying medicine today. We have an enrollment of 7,000 every year;
more than 12,000 are studying at the Latin American School of Medical
Sciences; 20,000 Latin American students, most of them from the
region's poorest countries, will begin courses in the first quarter
of next year. And nothing but respect will be read in the eyes of
those who attempted to deprive this country of doctors. Now, they see
an entire nation transformed into a university training professionals
in many specialties, most importantly in that humane specialty that
restores health and saves lives: medicine. History has already meted
out due punishment for the crimes they committed against us. You will
see 100,000 doctors come out of Cuba, because we are helping to train
doctors for the whole world, while they haven't a single doctor they
can send anywhere (Applause).

Mercenary attitudes will never give us an internationalist doctor;
mercenary attitudes will never give us a valuable and glorious
contingent specialized in natural disasters, epidemics and serious
illnesses like AIDS, which is the scourge of entire nations and
continents, almost to the point of obliterating their populations;
and they cannot prevent us from offering aid, because, for each and
every one of those doctors we had, those they stole from us, some
3,000 of them, there are 8 times that number participating in
internationalist missions or helping peoples in times of immense

First they took 3,000 and then others who had graduated; and, in
spite of that, we now have 25,000 doctors, a new type of doctor,
offering their services in the Third World. And, here in Cuba, nearly
50,000 of them keep working. How many times the original number?
Fifteen, sixteen or seventeen times, distributed across all of the
country's municipalities, reaching all corners of our nation, from
Sandino, next to Cape San Antonio, to Maisí, in Baracoa, on the
mountains and the prairies.

We are well aware that our system is not perfect, but no other
country has ever had as many doctors working so close to the
population as we do. No other country has ever had what we have in
greater and greater numbers: networks of outpatient clinics, that is
to say, primary care centers, and not only that but also physical
rehabilitation centers attached to those clinics, which now have
equipment they never had before, new standardized equipment, which
can be maintained and repaired, something which becomes impossible
when you have 40 or 50 different brands in use, as was the case until
recently in our country, and those outpatient clinics are already
becoming a model and centers offering training for doctors.

There will be tens, or rather hundreds and hundreds of university
campuses offering medical programs.

This, of course, isn't talked about much in cables, no, or on
television or the radio, which are crammed full of ads and official
lies. The governments behind these media have a lot of nerve.

You recall that we asked Mr. Bush:" Okay, sir, tell us how Posada
Carriles entered the United States, tell us where it was he entered
the country, on what ship, through what port, and who were the people
responsible for letting him in, who were his accomplices". An answer
is well overdue, many months have gone by, and they haven't uttered a
word on the subject. They deal with the problem by keeping mum, by
not answering a single question, because there are many people
involved there, in the US government, who authorized Posada Carriles
entry into the country, that terrorist, that heartless murderer they
now support and shield from justice. They haven't said a word, and
we've raised a lot of public questions.

When we expressed our willingness to send doctors to aid the people
of the United States, who had to fend for themselves in the midst of
the disaster that befell Louisiana, they kept quiet. It was our duty
to offer this aid to the people of the United States: it was thanks
to that people that US troops were pulled out of Vietnam; it was
thanks to that people that Elian was returned to our country; and it
is that people which, sooner rather than later, will force the empire
to pull its troops out of Iraq, where more than 2,000 young US
soldiers have died as a result of a merciless and unjust war

We were offering them aid at a time when retired citizens were
receiving no assistance and dying in homes, or in hospitals, where
chaos prevailed and the cry of "everyone for himself!" reverberated
through halls. We wanted to help them. And our doctors could have
saved many lives; despite this, they didn't even mention that Cuba
was one of the countries that had offered aid. All the while, our
friends in the United States kept wondering: "How odd that Cuba
hasn't offered any aid!" Total official silence! They forced us to
declare what we had done, and that we had been among the first to
offer aid.

And when another hurricane was heading towards them again, we weren't
among the first, we were the only ones that, days before the
hurricane hit, offered them aid. There was no response that time
around either; only silence.

Yesterday, I elaborated on the note they sent us not long ago, the
remarks of the US Interests Section official, the kind remarks, in
reference to the need for Mexico, the United States and Cuba to
cooperate in hurricane-related matters.

Immediately, there were cables announcing that Cuba had accepted the
aid; yesterday, I went over documents to show you the words we used
and the points we made in our response. Now all of that is being
talked about. But they shed no light, as a rule they steer clear of
the difficult questions, they still haven't told us, for instance,
they haven't dared to tell us, nor could they tell us without
incriminating themselves, how and where the most heinous and
disgusting terrorist in the western hemisphere entered the United

Today, they refuse to release five Cuban heroes who fought against
terrorism, five innocent Cuban patriots, the victims of the hatred of
the mob and the corruption of Miami courts, who were sentenced to
life imprisonment.

I don't see Europe vigorously demanding the freedom of these Cubans
who remain in prison, even though a fully competent court in the
United States declared their trial illegal, that that trial had been
unfair, that that trial wasn't worth a damn; however, they are still
in jail. That is how the imperial system works, shamelessly and
without ethics.

But how strong Cuba has become! Cuba is so strong it can look the
empire's European accomplices in the eye, it can look them straight
in the eye and accuse them, say to them: you are hypocrites, you are
corrupt, you are immoral, you are exploiters, you created modern
slavery, in past centuries, following what came to be known as the
discovery of America. You created colonialism and have kept it alive
to this day. You, and the United States, created uneven trade; you
steal hard currency from all countries by forcing them to deposit
their reserves, both public and private, in the banks of rich
countries, fleeing from inflation and taking refuge in it: that is
how you keep all of the world's money at your fingertips. That is why
I say to you: you are pillagers, you are thieves and, despite all
that, Cuba's money is not yours for the taking. The empire's insolent
dollar, however, a dollar that has been taught a few lessons already,
continues to bleed us dry in the most brutal manner.

That is what we told Maradona during the first interview he did with
us, when we showed him that in a blockaded country, in which many
products and services are still rationed and subsidized, an insolent
dollar, which they send from over there and can be changed not for 26
but for 24 Cuban pesos, because our peso is gaining in value, with
that dollar, for example, you can pay for 150 kilowatts of
electricity. And how much do people pay, how much do they pay if they
consume more electricity? A mere two dollars for 300 kilowatts.

That is the purchasing power of that dollar they send to Cuba, and
how much does the Cuban state have to pay for each kilowatt of
electricity? No less than 36 dollars for the same number of
kilowatts, and this is a conservative estimate, if we calculated the
costs more precisely we would probably see that it was more. That is
to say, they send one dollar and it costs us 18 in convertible hard
currency. They send two and it costs 36 dollars.

That's what they do with many other things, and our people, being
pillaged in this manner, many times didn't receive, --this was the
case until recently and it's starting to change-- enough soap, the
kind that's rationed and odorless, without perfume, or enough
toothpaste, or women's pads in sufficient quantities. We know this
well, because, recently, the light industry sector was instructed to
step up production to increase the quantity of soap and to perfume it
a bit; to increase toothpaste and pad volumes, so that there would be
enough for everyone. This plan has already been set in motion. This
sector has even received instructions to increase those figures

So, the country is making efforts in this connection but, all the
while, how much money is it spending to subsidize the dollar,
multiplying the purchasing power of the dollar?

It is not my intention to go into details about all of this here, but
I am letting you know of the situation and I'm letting you know in
advance, because we have to work together to put an end to this kind
of pillaging, this kind of exploitation. What we've done is not
enough, we know well what we have to do, we have to adhere to the
principle of a minimum of opportunities for the parasites; a minimum
of opportunities for those who receive that currency that is helping
to pillage our country, whatever currency it is, because our country
has accumulated enough experience to do things correctly and to
prevent things like that from ever happening again.

Our country moves toward military invulnerability and, take heed,
towards economic invulnerability; and what those thousands of social
workers, which are only a small, active part of the social workers we
have, are doing is fighting to achieve Cuba's economic
invulnerability, and the principle they are striving to make a
reality is the principle of giving the most to those who work, to
those who receive a salary or a pension as workers in factories,
professionals, teachers, doctors, workers in any walk of life. Yes,
those should be the ones who benefit the most.

As revolutionaries who strive for a better world and a much fairer
society, who are today much more experienced people and can take
bigger steps toward those aims, we must build a society in which
human beings earn a living by working, or receive from society what
they deserve for having worked all their lives, who have helped us
advance two thirds of the way towards our aims, aims we will have
reached in the not-so-distant future. We also cannot forget to share
part of what we have, and all of our experience and knowledge, with
other peoples of the world.

I insist that are well aware of the many of the things we are doing
today, I must say this to our people (Applause). And we won't be any
poorer for helping others, nor will we deprive ourselves of anything.
The heroic struggle of our people has plowed the fields of time, and
there we shall sow the seeds of that better society and world of
which the doctors that filled this stadium, this stadium you now fill
and will be filled by social workers tomorrow, are a part; doctors
who are not only conscious human beings and who struggle against
unjustifiable wrongs, but who also inspire those people who, not
being social workers, are at their side in this struggle.

And when in each of the people's councils, everywhere, when each and
every citizen begins to do what these social workers are doing today
and members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, of
women's organizations, when combatants of the revolution, workers,
students, members of all grassroots organizations and the Young
Communists League and the Party begin to struggle for the same things
these social workers are struggling today, these workers who are
aware of what's going on, of the nouveaux riches who do not want to
pay their due and those who accept bribes or allow themselves to be
bribed, then it will be much more difficult for these people to do
what they are doing today. I am absolutely certain of this.

For instance, we could teach the government of the United States how
to protect the population in case of a natural disaster; this could
help save the lives of many poor people.

I believe Miami is experiencing major power failures caused by the
hurricanes, that it's without food, without anything, and I know that
the 100,000 citizens here who were affected by coastal flooding have
been receiving food, have been assisted in every way possible and
that social workers are drawing up an inventory of all the things
that were damaged, to help them recover what they lost in as short a
time as possible. That is what we know is happening, and what will
always happen whenever there's a disaster of this nature.

So, with respect to brain-drain between state institutions: well,
will radio and television channels hire art instructors? Will the Art
and Film Institute hire them? Will the people's theaters hire art
students or teachers and put them to work there?

Who will engage in this sort of piracy? We hope that no one will. I'm
looking at Ernesto, head of a television channel, I'm positive he
won't be so undisciplined, I'm sure the heads of government
institutions won't be so undisciplined, I'm sure tourist agencies
won't be so undisciplined, I'm sure state bodies won't scoop up young
people who have completed their education, who are programmers or who
are versed in computer science, because there are 40,000 programming
students in polytechnic institutes that specialize in computer
science, forty thousand! And there are 8,000 at the University of
Information Sciences (UCI by its acronym in Spanish), who are
pursuing higher education studies in the design of computer programs.

Whoever steals must have his hands cut off -this is a figure of
speech-, to cut off the thief's hand, that's from the time of the
Talion law. I studied law and have forgotten many things but I do
remember the Talion law, which made the punishment correspond to the
crime, (an eye for an eye) which doesn't actually involve cutting
anyone's hand off, but rather that anyone who 'misappropriates'
qualified personnel should not be permitted to keep their job. Take
heed, I say this on behalf of the revolution, on behalf of the Party,
on behalf of the state, whoever is guilty of these 'piracy' between
institutions, or any similar acts, will not remain in their positions
for long. It is time to put those mistakes behind us for good.

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