Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


(Editor's Note--E) Havana, Radio Progreso, in Spanish to Cuba, June 16,
1960, at 0407 GMT from the Blanquita Theater in Havana broadcast a meeting
of more than 6,500 restaurant and hotel workers. Premier Fidel Castro and
Labor Minister Augusto Martinez Sanchez were among those introduced.

The secretary general of the Restaurant and Hotel Workers Federation, first
speaker, voiced the federations' support of the government's action in
taking over the hotels; said that its members must realize that the money
they accept from the government means less for building schools and roads
and further agrarian reform; and declared that when the CTC and many
industrial federations are agreeing to freezing of wages, restaurant and
hotel workers cannot press demands.

Jesus Soto, secretary general of the CTC, emphasized the need of labor
unity and said that centralized labor organization means fewer leaders and
more powerful organizations. Reaction, divisionists, agents of imperialism
and Mujalismo oppose such a centralized labor structure and launched a
campaign imputing personal ambition to those advocating such an
organization. In detail he explained why a single union is desirable and to
the best interests of the workers. He expressed confidence that 98 percent
of the hotel and restaurant workers support the decision to form a single

Labor Minister Martinez Sanchez declared that the unified union is not a
new thing in the revolutionary process, that in most countries there is a
single union organization, a setup brought about by the workers themselves
when they realized that they should be united. With a unified union workers
would be better able to defend their interests. Owners of chains of hotels,
he said, had discouraged tourism to harm the revolution which in turn
harmed hotel and restaurant workers. When reorganization measures are put
into effect, the minister declared, we are certain these centers will be
more prosperous than when they were intervened.

Premier Fidel Castro, who was given an ovation, said there were "many
things to talk about." He recalled having recently explained to
construction workers the complex process of the revolution and said that
from the beginning the revolution had given its attention to tourist trade.
Millions were invested by the government in the interest of tourism. Never
before had such a program been undertaken to develop tourist centers and
exploit tourist facilities. Tourism, he said, had been in the hand of
monopolists, depended mostly upon North Americans, and was oriented for the
enjoyment of the privileged. Thousands of workers depended on the tourist
trade. But those administering hotels were indifferent to the tourist trade
and even sabotaged tourism because they were acting in line with their
counterrevolutionary ideas and in accordance with those interests which
fight the revolution.

Castro said that "three of the most important hotels in Cuba were built
with resources of thee nation--the Riviera, the Hotel Nacional, and the
Hilton Hotel." In the case of the last, he said, it was not necessary "to
bring a single dollar into the country. The restaurant and hotel workers
retirement fund was there; there were the millions of pesos that had been
collected by the sweat of the workers; there were the funds that were to
serve so that workers, after many years of labor, would have the hope of a
pension, of some well-deserved rest paid for with the fruit of their
contributions during their lifetime. It was a matter of the investment of
the funds of the workers being turned over to the foreigners. In that way
no less than 27 million pesos were invested. The hotel and restaurant
workers retirement fund turned over 14 million pesos and it also issued
mortgage bonds to the value of 13.5 million pesos for which the retirement
fund was responsible."

The restaurant and hotel workers retirement fund, the Premier said, would
have taken 135 years to get back this investment in the hotel, without
counting the interest. Maybe the great-grandchildren of present workers, if
thee hotel lasts a 100 years, might have gotten something back from the
investment. The hotel belongs to you, Castro said. It was called the
"Hilton Hotel." It occurred to me to call it "Habana Libre"--Free Havana.
Since that is the name suggested by a worker, and accepted by you who are
the ones who paid for the hotel, the hotel from today will be called
"Habana Libre." The administrator of the hotel already knows of this, so
the name can be changed quickly. Efforts, Castro said, have been made to
use the tourist trade as an economic weapon and for political pressure.
Everything has been done to keep American tourists from coming to Cuba.

But the extreme maturity of the Cuban people is evident. Despite all the
hate campaigns against Cuba, despite the propaganda notes against the
country, despite constant aggressions, despite air attacks, despite aid
given war criminals, there has not been a single case when a Cuban citizen
failed to show special hospitality and consideration to every U.S. tourist
during the 18 months of the revolutionary government. Cubans have not been
carried away by irrational hatred. But the campaigns have continued. Doubt
and fear have been sown by U.S. papers about coming to Cuba. They even
wrote that U.S. tourists were murdered. There has been a steady campaign
against our tourist trade. Aggression against tourist trade must be added
to Batista oppression and terrorism and corruption, Castro said. Campaigns
have been waged against the revolution which ended crime and theft and
corruption and established an atmosphere of security so that even foreign
spies walk our streets in peace. That is the truth of the matter.

Efforts are made to create problems for the revolution--it doesn't matter
to them if they mean hunger for our workers' families; they don't care
about anything if they are defending their interests and combating the
revolutionary conscience of our people. So finding solution to these
problems will always be another victory, a strengthening of the revolution.
And so here we are fighting a battle against enemies of our revolution. We
must win this battle, as we will win all battles. They will not starve our
restaurant and hotel workers to death; they will not succeed in spreading
unemployment; they will not check our national tourist program. Now the
people will administer their hotels. The people will meet the situation as
they should. We are going to put the hotels on a paying basis, but we will
do so with the least sacrifice to the workers. We are going to make the
hotels without a single worker in them losing his job.

Castro observed that "those who want to destroy the revolution constantly
seek out weak points. They constantly attack the flanks they believe
vulnerable. We will see who wins this battle. We will see who is
victorious. Let them see if it is possible to destroy a revolution which is
defended by a working class such as this. We will go on winning the battles
one by one. Now it is the tourism battle; then the oil battle. We are
winning the currency battle. We will go on winning.

Speaking of a shortage in transport facilities to the beaches on weekends
and holidays, Castro said the operation of tourist cars had been suggested.
One itinerary, he said, included the U.S. Embassy, which drew gasps from
the audience. Castro suggested: We can omit it from the trip.

Turning to the subject of a single union for hotel and restaurant workers,
the Premier assured that no workers' interests would be jeopardized, that
the revolutionary government never would go along with anything harmful to
the worker.

In conclusion, Castro recalled that there had been a time when the majority
of workers lacked even the elementary things of life, when they knew
nothing but work, while others enjoyed the comforts of life and workers had
nothing. He declared that Cubans no longer are living as they once did but
are freeing themselves and struggling for a future fare different from the