Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

As if possible interest to the Department from the standpoint of the
potential decrease in agricultural exports to Cuba as the result of
official action on the part of the Cuban Government, the following is a
partial analysis of the remarks made by Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro,
in his television appearance on September 17, 1959.

With regard to Cuba's foreign exchange reserves, the Prime Minister said:

"These reserves are formed of gold and dollars deposited with the
National Bank.  The country obtains foreign exchange for what is
exports and spends it on what it imports.  Care should be exercised
that Cuba does not have an unfavorable balance of trade.  We should
import less than we export.

"Our imports should be reduced to the useful and practical things
needed for the development of the country, and not on luxury items."

Thereupon, Dr. Fidel Castro started to read lengthy statistical
statements.  Among them, he read the following:

"In the year 1958, we exported a total of 765 million dollars:  our
imports amounted to $800,200,000.  Thirty-five million of the reserve
were lost.

"In the year 1957, out of $772,900,000 in imports, 36 million
corresponded to automobiles and 3 million to luxury items."

With respect to the reserves, he offered the following data:

"At the beginning of 1956, there existed 350 million; and at the end of
the year, they were reduced to 300 million.

"The year 1957 commenced with 300 million and ended with 250 million.

"The year 1958 commenced with 250 million and ended with 70 million.

"Summing up:  At the time the Revolution assumed power on January 1,
1959, there existed only 70 million in reserves.  On March 10, 1952,
the year Batista took over, the reserves reached 531 million.  These
reserves were squandered and the big opportunity to industrialize the
country was lost.

"The estimate for the current year of 1959 places the exports in
approximately 650 million dollars; the imports, in order to maintain
our reserves, should not exceed 425 million.  One has to save and to
guide the country economically.

"Our present annual reserve amounts to 110 million."


A number of the panel asked whether production has increased during the
eight months of the current year and whether he was satisfied with the
results.  The Prime Minister answered that "production has increased in
many aspects, especially in corn, rice, textile industry, alcohol,
cigarettes and in almost all industries, as well as in agriculture."

"But", he added, "we are not satisfied, for we have to do more to
change the deficits.  Our efforts next year will be directed toward
that goal."


Afterwards, the Prime Minister sketched his plan, which he said was
born of necessity: "First: to restrict the importation of luxury
articles to save foreign exchanges.  Second: to undertake to attain the
maximum production of all articles that are presently imported.  Third:
to export meat, up to 100 million dollars, and canned products and
other articles, to invest the proceeds in machinery and factories.
Fourth: to [Unreadable text] tourism.  Fifth: to use all the foreign
exchange, thus saved for the industrial development of the country."

He said that among the items scheduled for maximum production, 950,000
quintals of beans shall have to be obtained; 3,000,000 quintals of
rice; 794 quintals of garlic and onions; 1,982,000 quintals of lard,
306,000 quintals of canned tomatoes; 14 million dollars in cotton and
14 million dollars in [Unreadable text].

Insofar as tourism is concerned, he said that like the Agrariam Reform,
much work is being carried on, and that if beaches, watering places and
other tourist centers under construction succeed in stopping next
year's exodus of Cubans abroad, 15 million dollars in foreign currency
will be saved.


Dwelling upon the statement concerning the unfavorable balances of
production and consumption in the country, he pointed out that 20
million dollars in lard are imported annually; and the total in all
pork products reaches 40 million.  "The tragedy of an underdeveloped
agricultural country", he said, "is to import agricultural products.
We have to go out and produce lard, although we may have to pay a
little bit more for it.  Because of the saving in foreign exchanges, we
could more than double the amount used for public works."

He added that the production of hogs should be increased; something
that is already being done.  He reported that in Mijal's farm, where
there were 200 female hogs, there are now 600 which, in no time, will
be converted into 1,200.


Dr. Castro later reiterated that two million dollars have already been
invested in the acquisition of cattle by INRA, that they are in a
position to purchase all surplus cattle, and that in the region of
Camaquey, the development of the cattle industry is being
undertaken on a large scale.

He pointed out that the small breeders are being provided with credits
through BANFAICa.

Chester E. Davis
Agricultural Attache

Translated:  css

Informacion - September 18, 1959