Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Source: Revolucion, Havana, 26 July 1960

Doctor Fidel Castro, Prime Minister of the Revolutionary
government, appeared on "Before the Press" last night in what can be called
an exceptional interview, since he took the opportunity to inform the
people about the scope of the measures contained in the Agrarian Law, while
at the same time clarifying some misunderstandings with regard to these
plans. After stating that this is one of the most thoroughly studied Cuban
laws, he stressed that it will not be changed for any reason, since its
true scope was calculated in advance and what is needed is to adapt to it
and await the results, which he said would be much more beneficial to the
people in general than even its warmest defenders had expected.

Below the reader will find the text of Doctor Fidel Castro's
statements, a reading of which will indicate their singular importance.

Vanguemert: Perhaps it will seem to Doctor Castro that, as the New
York Times said in its editorial yesterday, it is still too soon to form a
final opinion on the Agrarian Law. However, I believe that there are some
points which need clarification. For example, there are small farms both in
Pinar del Rio and in Havana, with two caballerias of land or even less
dedicated to tobacco growing. These farms are the sole property of some
families, who hold them on share cropping contracts, and now the law
assigns them to the sharecroppers. Has the government thought of measures
to alleviate their situation?

Dr. Castro: You don't mean to say that with the volume of tobacco
which has to be burned every year, and the great poverty of the tobacco
growers, these farms could still support more than one family?

Vanguemert: Yes, indeed, and some families have gone into debt and
now find themselves without their farms.

Dr. Castro: But you have heard of the miserable situation of the
tobacco harvesters. How, then, do you explain that they could support other

Vanguemert: Nonetheless, this is the situation.

Dr. Castro: Certainly, there are some regrettable cases, but the
laws cannot be broken down like telephone directories. If all of these
cases were taken into account, the laws would have to be like telephone
directories. The laws apply equally to all individuals, yet all persons are
not equal. There is no other way, because legal science has not invented
any better way than to measure individuals by the same yardstick. In penal
law, there are mitigating or aggravating circumstances, but in general, the
laws apply equally to various persons. The law cannot take these individual
cases into account for reasons of principle. The law is designed to make
those who work it the owners of the land. In fact, these families were
dependent on the work of others. If they financed it, interest was
collected on the money and they obtained the benefit of the interest. But
what in certain is that an absentee landlord, large or small, was living
off the work of others, and now we have an explanation of why the tobacco
harvesters were in such a serious economic position, because they had to
make payments to an absentee who never sweated over the land at all. From
the human point of view, it is certain that a person who for one reason or
another has title to the land -- possible he inherited it or purchased it
-- but has never worked it is deriving benefits from those who are working
it. It is not even a question of whether those who directly cultivate the
land are managing or directing the work on the farm. The situation of those
who depend exclusively on their income from such land is regrettable, but
sadder still is the situation of the sharecropper who has been doing the
work but had to sacrifice considerable part of his income to an absentee
owner. The laws are designed to alter certain existing economic relations,
and to make certain changes. In this case, the principle of the laws calls
for giving ownership of the land to those who work it, and the law,
although in this case it causes hardship, cannot abandon the principle on
which it is based, because these cases are the exception. We would have to
calculate what percentage of the farms come in this category, but obviously
they are the exception. In the Sierra Maestra law, we took this situation
into account. But what it really means is that we are going to oblige those
who were not working the land to go and do so. We believe that this will be
the best, because if we paid indemnity for the value of the land in these
cases, it would always be claimed that the loss of two caballerias from a
farm of 30 is not the same as the loss of all of a two-caballeria farm.
However, this is the consequence of a situation wherein the owner was not
working the parcel of land he owned.

Moderator: If the law has not yet been published in the Official
Gazette, should it be regarded as approved or is it open for suggestions or
recommendations from the zones affected?

Dr. Castro: If the government solicits suggestions, it would be
better not to issue the law, because we know human nature well, and we know
how people always react when their interests are affected.

Moderator: But the government could reserve the right to reject a

Dr. Castro: An agrarian law which no one undertook to promulgate
in 50-some years. This shows the integrity of the government, which has
been brave enough to assume the responsibility for its measures. We have
studied it very thoroughly, that is to say, this law has been the more
carefully studied than any other, from that trip to the Zapata Swamp to the
final day, we considered every aspect of the law so that not a single point
would escape us. We sought out and listened to the opinions of persons
experienced in these agricultural matters and also, we were guided by our
revolutionary principles, the very principles which inspired the Sierra
Maestra agrarian law. Only, on that occasion we were concerned with the
limited jurisdiction we had then. We did not undertake to write an agrarian
law applicable for the whole of our territory, but we did indeed state in
one of the paragraphs that it would be the task of the government to carry
out the article in the constitution which prohibits large landholdings, and
that this would be one of the laws which the revolutionary government would
issue. You must understand that if we solicit suggestions, the very hope
that the law might be changed, and we would possibly awaken many hopes,
would lead to a process of delay.

The revolution has issued its law, has adapted its law after very
thorough study. Now then, what we cannot permit is that once the measure
has been established, a single step backward should be taken. For this
reason, I am stating now, as it is my duty to state, to all the people,
that it is the firm determination of the revolutionary government not to
retreat a single step with regard to revolutionary law or allow it to be
modified. It would be better for this energy to be put into resignation, or
if you wish, adaptation, to the revolutionary law, because this is one of
those things for which there is no remedy. When all is said and done, it is
settled. But what is being lost? Land? Money? On other occasions it has
been our fate to lose things which matter greatly to us. There are those
who lose an arm in an accident, a catastrophe...

...I would like you to understand what I meant by my question...

If you will allow me to finish my answer, you will see what I
mean. Often in life we lose things worth more than money and land, and here
we have a journalist who lost his some in the attack on the Presidential
Palace on 13 March. He has lost more in this revolution than the landowner
who loses a few caballerias of land, but in the end he accepted this great
sacrifice because the fatherland demanded it of him, and he is here
fulfilling his duties as a journalist, working, without resentment toward
anyone. Similarly, it is necessary now finally to accept the revolutionary
reality, and the reality of the agrarian law which will be carried out to
the last detail, to its final consequences, in a word (applause).

We do not draft laws for the purpose of having them change,
particularly when we have studied them as thoroughly as we have the
agrarian law. It is a hard role which falls to us, Doctor, in having to
issue these measures, because I know that when I leave this revolutionary
government, I will be the citizen with the most enemies in this republic,
despite the fact that all these impositions were inspired by the most
adamant patriotism and the desire to serve others, the nation, a human
feeling, a patriotic feeling, full of complete and absolute purity, because
we have never benefited in any way, and in a case such as this we have even
sacrificed our own family -- I am not going to count myself among those who
are losing a caballeria of land, since I do not count at all, but our own
family has sacrificed. Everyone will recognize that when we have to adopt
these measures which adversely affect some, it would be better if we did
not harm anyone. It is a bitter pill, but we cannot benefit the few at the
cost of harming others, particularly in cases when they will never
understand that these things were necessary, because the nation has been
demanding them for many years, because the people truly want this which
they have been denied, and which it has fallen to us to undertake. It is
not to ply the role of demagogues or politicians or traitors that we do
this, but we have been assigned the harsh role of correcting what should
have been corrected at the beginning, what should have been avoided, but it
has fallen to us to undertake this hard task and this must be understood,
since there are many who do not understand it. These things were necessary,
as otherwise, I would like those who have conscience, those with the
slightest sense of honesty, to tell me what the destiny of the republic
would have been if we followed the old path. I would like someone to tell
me what would have happened when there were three times as many of us as
there are now, and when our developmental lag was still greater, because we
would have greater poverty in the country -- what would happen here then?
Because we throughout have respected the laws. It is true that we have
undertaken measures of a revolutionary nature, but we have respected
opinions, and the revolutionary laws have the support of the majority of
the nation. They were not imposed by a dictatorship, by terror, so that
those affected have the right to protest.

And there have been protests against the agrarian reform laws and
the other revolutionary laws. Yet we could not have carried out
revolutionary measures forward in a more humane fashion. This most
necessary measure, this surgical operation which the republic required
could not have been carried forward by more hones, democratic and humane
methods. Because it should be remembered that agrarian reform had, first of
all, the consent of the entire country -- 98% of the people are in
agreement with agrarian reform and this measure we have undertaken. As I
said before, giving no exact figures, because naturally no one has wanted
now, or in the past month, to ignore the full series of pressures and
suggestions, particularly knowing that no one is pleased by the part of
the measure adversely affecting some, but as we said, the law was to have a
limit, an exception. You will remember that I said this during the last
program, and as this exception was to have a limit, there was indeed, in
the law published in Havana, which was one of the first laws, a whole
series of figures which were not included. And when we decided to establish
a limit for the exception, it was on the basis of the trip to the Zapata
Swamp, just at the time when finally a firm criterion had been established,
and I proposed it to the group of comrades who were studying the law. If we
wanted a law which would leave large landholdings intact, we would have
needed no law, except to promulgate one like this, because it will deal as
firmly with those from who it takes one caballeria as with those form whom
it takes 300. We are not going to give anyone 300, but we will deal with
all with equal firmness. But if it comes to undertaking a revolution in
which the agrarian law is the basic point, without promulgating a true
agrarian law, we would have done as well not even to undertake the
revolution, because as I said a revolution was undertaken here because we
wanted to establish a democracy in Cuba, and that democracy could not be
maintained by dictatorial means, because there was no way to put a stop to
the discontent prevailing in the country, no way to put a stop to the
crisis existing in the country. Thus it was question in fact of saving it,
or keeping a social system which the people would no longer tolerate alive
in an oxygen tent. Thus, if we wanted a true democracy in Cuba, the
alternatives were establishing a regime like this or leaving Batista in
power, because there was no way of governing the republic under dictatorial
methods, other than undertaking revolution. We undertook revolution
therefore not only to oust Batista but also to uproot all the evils, and
consequently we would be betraying all of the men who fell in the struggle
if we did not carry forward all the revolutionary measures which everyone
knows we have set forth in the list of democratic and humane undertakings
which characterize the revolutionary thinking of the 26 July movement and
distinguish it.

Thus, on the matter I must stress the firmness with which this law
has been set forth, because it is regarded as salutary for the future, and
there is not the slightest hope that we will modify it. We believe that the
purpose of this interview is to clarify matters, Doctor, and to speak

Bravo: My dear Prime Minister, I am most concerned that you should
understand that my purpose is solely to question and report, rather than to
argue. There was no other purpose in my question, and I am perfectly in
agreement with the basic spirit of the law. However, it seemed to me it was
possible that there could have been some secondary aspects of the law which
might have been improved before it was published in the Official Gazette.

Doctor Castro: A comma here, a comma there. Doctor, I am not
arguing. I am speaking to the people, and I am trying to tell them that the
worse thing we could do is to give rise to false hopes, because it is
better that they accept the reality, because we do not want to deceive
anyone by creating false hopes.

We are not dealing with the people as a demagogue or a hypocrite.
We make ourselves clear on every problem, and I believe that we would do
great harm to create false hopes.

I know that your task is to investigate and it is mine to provide
answers. I do not know if anyone believes that those who have clear ideas
can set them forth in 20 minutes. I believe the opposite. Those with no
ideas can make themselves clear in 10 or even 5 minutes, but no those who
have many things to tell the people, including informing them of things
which have been denied them for 50 years. To speak clearly, in terms the
people will understand, takes a little more time. What I am doing is to
make myself as clear as possible about all these matters, because I know
that sometimes I have gone on too long, but if we made a survey, we would
find that the majority of the people believe that we should speak more. For
me it is rather fatiguing work, and if I could I would rather devote myself
to my job. Because when one has to work, everything else which takes energy
-- signing an autograph, being embraced in the streets, takes strength and
time. However, there are people who say I should speak more often. When I
go 10 days without speaking, they begin to be concerned, despite all the
things I have had to do. I do not mean to say that I will speak less often
than I have, but I can say that I still have all my government
responsibilities to deal with.

My work is daily increasing, because we will see when things
become difficult as a result of the revolutionary laws who it is who faces
up to this situation with determination. You will see that I will have much
more work to do than I have been doing to date, almost to the limit of my
strength, but I will try to spend as little time as possible on all those
things which are not essential, in order to be able to bear the burden of
the work and, finally, the process of the revolution which rests upon my
shoulders. Because it is a fact that we are living among cowardly men, and
I am not calling those who are not revolutionaries cowards, for there are
indeed cowards who call themselves revolutionaries, and for the most part
they have nothing worth saying to the people. We find these people on every
corner, in every sector. They do not hesitate to stop and express
themselves and to use a certain kind of maneuvers which reflect the
counterrevolutionary attitude. And after we have done so much to try to
promote this revolution, we have even had to try to restrain those who take
the curves too fast, at 200 kilometers per hour.

We have had to battle against the enemies of the revolution,
because there is much that is counterrevolutionary and
pseudo-revolutionary, those who would do harm and who refuse to recognize
that there is no one who can halt this revolution. For this reason I must
speak constantly, explaining to the people, putting in order what others
have confused, organizing what others have disorganized, establishing what
others have tried to destroy. I believe that it is very sad that so much
work has fallen to one man. I am not complaining, but I must make this
clear because here, gentlemen, there are many people who want only to gain
their own ends, but who forget that this is a revolution which is not of
the left nor of the right but a revolution which has taken a step forward,
a definitive step, a conclusive step, and that it cannot be halted for a
single moment except to consider and search for what is best for the people
of Cuba (applause). I have had to explain many times that this is a
revolution which has its own plan, which has its own goal, from which it
can never be deflected by any one or anything. But sometimes these who try
derive the best possible advantage from the situation prevailing in the
country, who have done nothing but cause trouble, try to create confusion.
I would like to have an opportunity on another occasion to speak on this
matter, which is one the greatest importance, because there are
revolutionaries now who were not able to use up their energy and their
courage during the difficult times and now all they are doing is creating
disturbance, and I do not mind confronting them once again. I am certain
that we will continue to advance. I am certain that we will be a greater
nation than the United States, than Russia. I am certain that Cuba will
triple or quadruple its standard of living, will receive benefits which no
people has received, if it is able to defend the future which it holds in
its hands.

But nonetheless, we must defend ourselves against all these things
which we constantly see everywhere, because there are many people here who
aspire to be representatives or senators but do not have the courage to say

Journalist: Doctor Castro, the farms of widows or orphans who have
six or seven caballerias of land -- will they go to the Savings and Housing

The tenants will have the right to buy these farms, and to remain
there. Why wasn't this legal situation resolved, if they had the right to
remain, to purchase them, and thus have legal ownership? Finally, rental
contracts will be prohibited in the future.

Question: What factors will be taken into account to establish the
prices of land, because the law establishes the sale value from the tax
assessment records, but these values were determined in very few cases.

Answer: These cases can be included under the regulation of the
law, and the following has been provided: (read aloud passage from the
law). Have you studied the law carefully? You were not there? What happened
was that there was draft in the hands of the newspaper Revolucion which was
being submitted to various more or less important changes. Then, as it was
to be broadcast by radio, we decided to be very careful with the changes,
because many of the articles were in the same, but the changes and
alterations introduced at the last minute required close attention. The
broadcast was made, but there was interference, and it was not possible to
hear clearly, and the editor of Revolucion, Comrade Franqui, asked me if we
had made substantial changes. But I believe that the draft which Pino
Santos had given him was one of the alter ones, which included the
exemption limit, which was 100 caballerias, and I told him that there had
been no major changes, but I added: check it well and compare it with the
recording you have. But I did not know that that recording was
unintelligible, and no use could be made of it. It seems that there was a
great deal of interference. Thus I told him that there had not been major
changes, but the draft he had was not the second but the first, and so he
published it when I told him there were no major changes. But this was the
first one. Also, I believed that he had the recording, but he did not.
Where the second was concerned, there had been a series of changes and that
draft was published by various newspapers. There was an Associated Press
journalist there, and I explained all the data on this law to him. But as
there was flood in the Sierra Maestra and the journalists were delayed in
getting back, they arrived here two days later, and this entire initial
draft with all of the changes made there, the original draft approved
there. Then came Pino Santos, who had represented Revolucion, explaining
the changes which were made. I think he left two days later, on Tuesday, I
believe. I had not read these changes, but I asked questions and there were
some obscure points in the final wording of the law. Between 1 October and
1 January no] one knew that the revolutionaries would triumph, no one dared
in those days make changes so that the agrarian law would take no one by
surprise. This would have been a feat of prescience. Thus, this is what was
written on 1 January 1959, which was when talk of agrarian reform began, as
I said earlier: (reading from text).

I took special interest in this article which was not very clear
in the final version, because, among other reasons, we were affected by
this point, my family came under this article of the law. It was not very
clear. It was obvious that a limit of 30 was established, and then what we
did was to put it in this form: (reading from text).

Thus, if the lands there are not included in any exemption, which
is not likely, because the exemptions cover cases of intensively, but
really intensively cultivated land, then the limit is 30 caballerias.

I want to make it clear that this regulation did not provide the
protection which the enemies of agrarian reform hoped to find there. And I
tell you now that I renounce the little land I have in favor of agrarian
reform (applause). I have always had this notion since I began to
understand this.

Tamargo: Doctor Castro, according to the figures available on the
160,000 farms in Cuba, 4,500 exceed 30 caballerias, that is to say, they
were affected by the law, but among these 3,000 or 4,500 farms there are
the holdings of 5 great US companies -- the American Sugar Mills, United
Fruit Company, which everyone knows has been affected -- the American
Sugar Mills with 10,039, Cuban Trading with 8,426, United Fruit with 8,857,
and Punta Alegro with 2,020 -- everyone knows that they were mainly
affected by the agrarian reform, and they are US interests. What I am going
to say appeared in the newspapers on the same day when the agrarian reform
law was signed in the Sierra Maestra, in a series of reports which said
that there was a negative effect seen on the New York Stock Market as a
result of these measures. One of the cables said that Puerto Rican stocks
had gone up as a result of Agrarian reform in Cuba. Do you believe that the
Department of State will reduce the sugar quota? Do you believe that the
people of Cuba will be attacked for adopting this measure?

Fidel: I do not believe that they will undertake economic
measures against us because of the agrarian law problem. I say I do not
believe so, because it seems to me it would be a great error to take steps
against Cuba because of a law which has the support of 98% of the people of
Cuba. It is also a just law, because we believe that the friendly relations
between Cuba and the United States are worth more than these 50 caballerias
of land. We do not believe that there is so little regard for Cuban
friendship in the United States as to take measures because some new
companies who have nothing to do with the American people have lands in
Cuba which should be Cuban (applause).

... How many million pesos are these 50,000 caballerias of land
worth approximately...

To give a realistic figure it would be necessary to make a study
of the land in each case. It is necessary to take into consideration the
lands which are cultivated and those which are not, and their value. Many
of these lands are abandoned, but after all, in accordance with the
regulations governing the land, a more or less exact figure could be
established. In any case, whether it be a hundred million or 500 million,
it will not after all minimize the final results of the law, because the
lands will be purchased in accordance with the needs, and we have no other
obligations than those contracted in connection with the law, because we
know that we are going to increase Cuban production. We know that we are
going to increase the production of Cuba to an extraordinary extent. After
all, among the obligations remaining, the dictatorship alone left us a debt
of more than a billion pesos, and what are the results of these
expenditures? Where are they? Do we not have to pay for them? When all is
said and done, it will be difficult to meet them. In 20 years, the
indemnification of these lands at 4-1/2%, as as maximum, for the debt which
remains pending with regard to the lands -- well, I cannot answer your
question, Doctor, about the approximate value of these lands, we can make a
calculation here. We will take the figure you want...

Journalist: I am not versed in the matter of statistics...

Fidel: A thousand pesos will be, 500 would be 25 million and 1500
would be 75 million. We can calculate the value of these 150,000
caballerias approximately from these three figures. And 300 million would
not exceed the total for the land included under agrarian reform. But what
we can give you is an assessment of the profits which the people of Cuba
will obtain and the benefits which the peasants will have, because the
benefits will be extraordinary. While on the other hand you can calculate
what the 4% interest is. If indeed we see now that there are people
complaining of the problems resulting from the revolution, any person who
has an income of 20,000 pesos here will be much better off than with
abandoned lands and fear of agrarian reform, because we have done something
which was needed here and which would have had to be done sooner or later.
Those who received indemnification bonds for the land will have a
guaranteed income, while we, on the other hand, can resolve the problem of
the peasant families and provide work for thousands of Cubans in
agricultural production alone. Thus I do not know why people are concerned,
because the measure will inevitably produce tremendous consequences,
because we are taking land which is not producing or producing under very
poor conditions, whereas those who owned it did not have the time to
extract from it all the wealth possible, but will now receive
indemnification in these bonds which, as the document provides, will be
paid in 20 years. I have head some comments from the United States about
the conditions of indemnification and prompt payment. The question we must
ask ourselves is how we can carry out agrarian reform, because if we had
the money which Batista and Alliegro have in all the banks, we could make
prompt payment on agrarian reform. But the fact is that they took our money
(laughter), and also left us with an unfavorable balance of payments which
has cost us a billion dollars. And if in ten years our relations with the
United States have deteriorated, how are we going to make prompt payment,
to pay indemnity for agrarian reform?

Fidel: Because without reserves, and even if we exhaust ourselves,
kill ourselves with the work we have been doing to raise the monetary
reserves of the country, how will we pay the indemnification? We can pay in
20 years, but the holders of these bonds can negotiate them on the market.
They are getting good interest. They can negotiate them on the market and
now they have an advantage they did not have before: there is an honest
administration in Cuba. And if it was ever possible to have faith in state
bonds, it is now. And if it is possible to have real confidence in any
state bond, it is in the bonds of a state such as Cuba, a state which has
undertaken agrarian reform, which means it is going to increase the
production of the country to an extraordinary extent. Thus the integrity
and the honesty the Cuban government is the best guarantee of these bonds,
of the fact that it will not be difficult to negotiate them on the market,
because they are the bonds of a country in the process of development, a
country which has a formidable economic future. Thus, these bonds can be
called upon to payment. We cannot be paid in cast because we do not have
the funds, but as we have this agrarian reform, because we have undertaken
reform, we are paying in bonds. Just because we cannot pay in cash, we did
not fail to undertake a law without which the country would founder, would
sink into ruin, and as the interest is good, the holders of these bonds can
convert them into dollars or pesos and invest them in industry.

Therefore, analyzing the problem of indemnity for these lands,
indemnity is being paid. The indemnity which it will be difficult to obtain
is that the large landholders owe us. They did not pay us indemnity and
there was no prompt payment. What they gave us was misery, hunger and
dictatorship, and that is why this is what we needed to support the
interests of Cuba (applause).

Doctor Bravo: Having examined the agrarian law briefly, we find
that it calls for two types of organs; on the one hand, a Municipal Agrarian
Reform Council, which will be in direct contact in the various localities,
and on the other hand, the National Institute for Agrarian Reform, headed
by yourselves. These are th only one set forth in the law. Do you believe
that you can implement the agrarian reform?

Fidel: How do you know how many technicians I have in my office?
Moreover, I know that the law does not specify them, but no law lists all
the functionaries needed. As I have said, we have many technicians in our
office, and many persons who want to aid us, individuals who can help us on
entirely technical matters, because here political issues do not count at
all. Labor technology is what we are going to use. For example, we have
professors in agronomy, veterinary medicine, agricultural engineers,
veterinarians, students from the agriculture and veterinary schools...

I can tell you that a group of agronomical engineering students has
come, and two of them have been appointed to take charge of cooperatives,
because we want to head the cooperatives with completely trained
individuals, basically agricultural engineers, so that they will be
technical administrators. Also, we are going to begin first of all with the
cooperatives and with the redistribution of land. In the law published we
have stressed the aspects of the law pertaining to cooperatives. We have
organized some cooperatives, because we have seen that the results are
extraordinary. The first cooperative in the rice growing zone of Manzanillo
has been a success. Recently its administrator was in Havana and we asked
him if credit was needed. He added that they did not need a single cent.
There are three teachers at the cooperative which the cooperative itself
pays. It has had consistent success. We will put at the head of the
cooperatives persons of real knowledge, because we have true faith in their
success. And we do not want the persons managing them to be elected,
because if this were the case, I do not believe that we could obtain the
triumph we are seeing now at the beginning of our effort. For this reasons,
the cooperatives must be under the guidance of a technician, a person who
receives a good salary. Antonio, who heads the cooperative of which I have
spoken, is a person who has our full respect, because he is a fantastically
capable man. We have already entrusted him with the development of an area
of 6,000 caballerias of land. A few days ago half a million pesos were
given to him for the development of this area. We did this with the money
from Bohemia, because to date we have not had much state cooperation in
this matter of agrarian reform.

But the state is organized in its own fashion. I am speaking of
the state we inherited, under which in many cases if one wanted to resolve
a problem, he had to do so with the checkbook if he wanted matters to move
rapidly. This was the case with credit to the peasants, which we were able
to reduce to 4%. The BANFAIC [expansion unknown], as it was organized,
could not provide the loan, because capital was needed to mobilize it. We
were able to make a loan at 4% with the money available from the Behenia
income, and we allocated 4 million to the Sierra Maestra at 3-1.2%, working
through a credit cooperative which collected 4% from the peasants. Four
million were not enough, but then we took the 3-1/2% to make up the
difference. Thus with these four million we will be able to mobilize 12
million more at 4%, although we pay 5%. Some farmers complain that the
BANFAIC collected 5% interest.

But the BANFAIC never had the necessary resources and it was
established on the system of loan requests. However, the BANFAIC meant the
disappearance of usury at 30 or 40% in the rural sector. When it was
established, the interest dropped to 3%, but it would not make loans
without written records of landownership and this was done by means of
legal documents, which raised the cost to 16%. We have reduced it to 4%,
because we provided our credit through the shops. There is a consumer
cooperative and also the marketing cooperative, which costs us 8 million
pesos. There are already four warehouses and 35 shops built, and we are
going to build some 100 shops in the Sierra. This is one of the most
revolutionary and least advertised projects we have carried out, but one
whose benefits will be felt one day. We have established a Department of
Technical, Cultural and Material Aid for the peasants, and within that
department, we are organizing shops. But as there was no way of obtaining
money through the traditional channels, we had to use the institute funds,
since we cannot take tractors or heavy equipment to the Sierra Maestra
because they cannot be used on the steep terrain. For this reason we
invested the funds in establishing this marketing, consumer and credit
cooperative. Previously, the warehouses purchased credit and charged 25%.
The wholesalers added another percentage and then the shops passed it on to
the peasant, who finally paid a 100% charge. Coffee was harvested at a very
low price and taken to the market.

What have we undertaken? A measure which in some instances had
been hard because there have been people who had their business and helped
us. All we have been able to use in the shops and consumer cooperatives we
have used, but the merchandise will be sold with an extra charge of 15%,
thus it will be sold cheaper, even including the cost of extra personnel.
According to estimates, they will receive credit at 4% and also the full
product of their harvest, because the cooperative serves as an intermediary
between the producer and the consumer. With this measure we undertook
there, the shops themselves are banks, credit banks with a direct relation
with the peasantry. There all who have their own farms are known, what they
sow and their ate of production are known. The shop itself exerts a kind of
control over investment. These are shops and credit banks, intermediaries
between the peasant and the consumer. And thus we are saving the peasants
not only the extra they paid for credit, but the paper work, because as
they sell their products to the cooperative, it is assured of collecting on
loans. Private contracts are signed, credit is allocated immediately and
the development of production is watched. This is possibly the most
revolutionary innovation we have introduced since the revolution won power,
that of greatest scope, with the resources the people have provided. We
have been investing funds in this, but it has advanced at tremendous speed.
For example, you go to Bayamo and you will be amazed to see the warehouses
of the people's shops. There are four warehouses and 35 shops. This is one
of the projects the revolution undertook most rapidly to help to alleviate
the economic situation of the peasants. We are investing a million pesos to
provide credit to all the families -- to those who raise coffee, for a
year, and to those who do not -- for two, and for three years to those who
simply work. For this reason I say that we have not depended on the state
organs alone, because there are many organizations which we will have to
change but which we have not had time to change. However, given current
state of these organs it is absolutely impossible to provide credit at less
than 8%. For this reason I say that we cannot count on the collaboration of
the state, because this is a revolution which is being waged without
counting on many state institutions. Already, for example, we are grouping
the social retirement funds. The law has been issued and we will carry it
forward. It was absurd for each fund to have a board of directors and a
whole list of employees, a body of inspectors and its own administration.
This made the administration of insurance expensive, and now we are
grouping them together. Many state institutions and organs must be changed
in order to carry out functions worthy of the revolution.

Mr. Vanguemert: When I spoke of the organization of the agrarian
reform law, I noted that there is a very great gap between what we might
call the national level of the National Institute for Agrarian Reform and
the local level, made up of the local agrarian reform councils. It would
seem to me that it would be very difficult to administer this law on a
national scale without an intermediate level.

Fidel: There will be organs of a provincial type, which will
direct the work in province or in given regions, because each municipal
sector has been covered. The basic organs are those which are in the most
direct contact with the farms, and although the intermediate organs were
not mentioned, they are not excluded, this comes under the authority of the
institute. The institute has authority for everything.

It has very broad authority. This is no omission. But very
possibly there is one provision which will be removed from the regulations
regarding substitution: "Will be formed of peasants who can be replaced." We
are eliminating this provision because the leading organ of this
institution needs a maximum of authority, at least in this stage of the
development of agrarian reform. If we establish an organ in which a part of
the members may be replaced or removed by the associations through
elections, this will in part place the authority of the institute at the
mercy of possible disputes which might arrive at any time in an organ with
an electoral base. Thus, these organs will constitute an institute with a
maximum of authority. There is no doubt that this institute must be given
full authority so that it can advance, because it is necessary to act
firmly. Otherwise, we will not advance.

The law refers to sugar farmers, livestock breeders, and rice
cultivators, but not to tobacco growers -- to the concept of vital minimum
as it affects the owner of a small tobacco plantation. To those who devote
their farms to raising tobacco, no minimum of land is specified. For
example, does a person who finds himself in a situation lose all of his
land or not?

We are going to have to consider this case of the owner of a
tobacco farm, whether he who has four caballerias has a large farm. In
tobacco growing, this minimum of land is less than in cane growing or
livestock breeding. Livestock farms can be two to two and half and even
three, and in tobacco we will have to establish regulations and we will
have to make statistical calculations, but we insist on making very clear
certain details, and I will explain them to you. Some changes in articles
as they were there were made, and some doubts might arise from those who
have the first draft in hand, to which a whole series of points were added
which should be clarified. This has concerned me a great deal, because our
law will be studied in universities in other countries, and we want very
much to have these things quite clear.

It is for this reason we have the concept of the cooperatives,
because it is not a redistribution of land to produce small landholdings.
Rather we are trying to undertake agrarian reform to develop production and
to increase it, not to decrease it. We have to replace little production
with great production, but under better technical, social and economic
conditions, and this is what they are going to do. And there are few things
about this question of a vital minimum... Do you have your law here?

Moderator: Yes.

Fidel: There is a phrase we are adding here in Article 16.

Moderator: I have all the articles here.

Fidel: Good, this one you have referred to here.

Moderator: There has been no reference to any article.

Fidel: Well, what does the article say?

Moderator: Which article?

Fidel: That on the vital minimum (laughter).

Moderator: We will see where that passage is.

Fidel: While you look for the article, I will smoke a cigar.

Moderator: It is not Article 16. Oh, yes, it establishes as a
vital minimum for a peasant family of five persons (reading from text).

Fidel: To date this concept has not been very clear, and we added
this line: "Devoted to average income crops." Something was needed to
explain the concept of a vital minimum better, because it says here: "A
caballeria of irrigated producing tobacco" and we added: "Dedicated to
average income crops." And here again it says: "The Institute of Agrarian
Reform" (reading from text). And we added the consideration about the
average income expected by each family, we added what was not there, but is

This means that when we redistribute, we must no only redistribute
the land, but state what use will be made of it, because if livestock is to
be raised we must provide more land than if it is used to grow rice.
Therefore, the average land each family has will depend on economic
productivity, because we are seeking to establish an income level for the
peasant family which we calculate at 2,000 pesos a year, in addition to
which the family will have garden crops and many other things it would not
in the city, because in the country it will not lack fruits and a whole
series of other benefits. Also, the peasants can purchase cheaper than in
the city, because there, too, is the consumer cooperative where they can
obtain merchandise at cost price. Also, everything will cost less because
they have organs which can obtain goods at purchase price cost, adding a
small percentage, and they will be cheaper than in the city. Because, for
example, in the city one must pay 300 pesos rent, although now this has
been lowered, and the National Savings and Housing Institute is going to
carry out some plans -- if I may, I will talk to you about these -- because
there are some innovations being made in this connection at the National
Savings and Housing Institute.

A lower extension of the minimum was added, whenever the necessary
resources available and the economic and social conditions in the region
permit it. If possible, whenever the economic conditions make it possible,
those who have a parcel of land lower than the vital minimum will be

With regard to the man with four caballerias in tobacco, well, it
will simply be a tragedy. There is no remedy for this. He will not lose
this land, he will receive indemnification, or income from indemnification,
and yet he will have to sacrifice, because it is impossible to create laws
here which benefit everybody. It is not possible to make laws ideal for
every case.

Let us suppose the case of a large landholder with more than 30
caballerias, not covered by an exception. If he has less than 30, then his
plot will not be increased, because the ownership of more than caballerias
will only be for sections owned by planters, and no more land will be taken
because these farms are already covered by complete ownership.

Journalist: I would like to ask you a question, Doctor Castro,
because a moment ago you spoke of the standard of living in the cities and
the countryside. What can you tell us about the increase which has been
noted in the prices of some articles of first necessity, such as garden
crops and some canned goods?

Doctor Castro: We hope that no one will plead the case of a
monopoly existing in the Havana market, where there are a series of
intolerable things. You have, for example, the case of a truck loaded with
garden vegetables arriving at the Havana market, where they cannot be sold
because the truck reeked of rotten malanga, or the case of other garden
crops which were monopolized by three or four men. This is why there is no
efficiency in Havana. Even here, it is not only the problem of building,
because it was occupied by the municipality. The solution could not even be
resolved by lower rates, because there were 600 subtenants, and
municipality prohibited subtenants. Those who wanted to lease stalls had to
make it worthwhile to the tenant.

But the problem lies with the purchase of those who resell to the
peasants and who have a monopoly on the market. This is one of the leading
problems which must be resolved here, and it is our firm determination to
resolve the problem of the Havana market. One day recently there was a
peasant who was afraid to go to sell, and the result, as the municipal
commissioner of Havana told me, was that after him came another with four
trucks, and a problem of public order which he had to go and settle
developed there, because the masters of the monopolies tried by every means
to prevent the peasant from being able to sell his products. But this must
end, because if we did away with all these abuses in the Sierra Maestra,
and said there that they would be ended throughout the country, how can we
fail to resolve the problem of the Havana market (applause)! Here, horrible
things are happening. The middle man pays less to the peasant and then
collects more from the people. It is the middle man who makes goods
expensive. If you want an example, take meat. In connection with the meat
problem, no one has wanted to act, but we will act.

Journalist: Doctor Castro, does it not seem to you very necessary
that measures be undertaken concerning the abuse committed against the poor
peasants by the trade departments of the sugar mills? Is there no way of
putting an end to something which is inhuman?

Doctor Castro: Yes, we are firmly determined to put cooperatives
in the sugar mills. They should have been there for some time. Speaking of
the municipal market problem again, we must seek a way in which the peasant
can sell his products direct without the services of a middle man. We must
move rapidly with the establishment of a central cold storage facility.
This is very important,a because thus the peasant can bring his product
without fear, and without the interference of the middle men, and these
peasants can go to the Institute of Agrarian Reform and there they will
obtain credit for which they will have to pay a much lower interest than
they are paying today.

Then we must supply the various markets in the capital form this
sector, so that they can sell there under competitive conditions and not
monopoly conditions, which are one of the causes of the rising costs. Here
it seems that some people think they can mock the revolutionary government,
but we say to them that the equanimity of the government does not mean that
we are going to allow them with impunity to drive up the costs of goods of
first necessity. And this problem is related to the state of anarchy
prevailing in some labor centers. For this reasons we want to say to all
the workers that the revolution has been serving the interests of the
people, but it demands also that the workers' sectors of the country
fulfill their sacred obligations.

We are confronted with the problem of the high cost of goods of
first necessity. We are confronted with certain inflationary problems.
Inflation means a decrease in the purchasing power of money, as a result of
which the prices of articles rise very high. The problem of prices and
wages is something which, within a revolutionary process, must absolutely
be controlled by the government. It is inconceivable -- and in this I see
no difference between certain radical theories and the most reactionary
ones -- that the state should not regular prices and wages, because the
the increase in the standard of living of the people depends on an increase
in production. The production of a country may have been adapted to
consumption for years, and there may even be a reserve of stocked goods,
but an unexpected increase in consumption can occur, and then it is
necessary to increase production. It is not possible to double the standard
of living of a people if one does not double their production, unless one
embarks on an inflationary spiral under the illusion that better salaries
are being paid. However, when one goes to purchase goods, it will be found
that they cost more. I always quote this example: it is impossible to
distribute two million eggs if the hens have only laid one million. Nor can
one sell two million head of cattle year if the cows have not calved more
than a million. It is impossible to provide a house for each peasant
family, replacing the hut in which it lived, or to provide new furniture,
if these houses and this furniture have not been built, and so on. We could
issue a billion pesos, for example, but what would the consequences be?

Well, simply, one purchases products of a country because nothing
is imported, and then eggs cost 40 centavos, because one must purchase what
there is and adapt to a given production, and then why distribute a billion
if production has not increased? Either one consumes national products,
paying the double, or one imports, but if we import we must pay in foreign
currency, and if we invest in beans, rice, eggs, what will we use to
purchase tractors and factories? We will have to depend on what we are
given or on foreign investments for savings, to establish factories, and
then goods will become more expensive or our monetary reserves will be
exhausted. Thus, the basic problem, what it is necessary for every citizen
to understand, is that it is not possible to double the standard of living
if we do not double production. It is not possible to triple the standard
of living if we do not triple production. Everything which conspires
against an increase in production is counterrevolutionary, although it may
be disguised as extremely radical.

Journalist: Does this mean that the revolutionary government is
not approving the requisitions for salary increases being filed in many
centers or sectors of our national industry?

Doctor Castro: It means that at least we cannot increase salaries
if it means that the peasants and those with lower incomes must pay higher
prices, because this would mean increasing the income level of those who
earn more, while the peasant in the Sierra Maestra or in any of the sugar
mills would find that everything is more expensive. This is of more concern
to the government than any leader who agitates in this connection, because
the government would sacrifice its reputation if it permitted this.

I remember the famous speech on 22 March when I said that "they
will want to push the blame on me." Well, there is no lack of criticism
that I talk but do not act. When steps are taken they accuse the
government of being dictatorial, and when we allow free production we are
criticized, but then they say that we are ignoring the redistribution of
farms or ignoring the sugar harvest. But it is impossible to resolve all
the problems by talking, and there are those who seem to have tried to make
the workers believe that they do not have to cooperate with the revolution,
that all they demand is proper. They have been shouting and agitating in
the trade unions, trying to be more democratic than we are. And this is not
the only time we have had to deal with situations which could have been
suicidal, because there was a revolution which cost many lives and which
was undertaken thanks to the sacrifice of our youth and our people.

I have had to exert all the influence we have over the people and
tell them that we cannot do this, and I have said so on television.

We have promulgated a law which also called for the loss of rights
to agrarian reform on the part of those who take over farms in anarchic
fashion. Why? Because those who arrived first took the best land and those
who came later got the worst. This promoted the egotism of the peasant who
gobbled up parcels of land, but the worst was that this was disrupting
production which would have prospered with that trend which was a true
revolutionary plan. What would the result have been? They wanted to make
the peasant believe that he could take the land, and the result of dividing
up the cows would have been a great setback of 15 years for us, such that
it would take us 15 years to catch up. So I said that on the day we
announced that there was no meat and no money, because our exchange was
exhausted, and it was necessary to eat codfish, what would the consequences
have been -- well, the loss of the prestige of the government. Under these
circumstances, whatever the circumstances, I repeat, if we spend money,
however much we would lose, it would take us that much time to recover, to
recover our livestock well. But now we are establishing cooperatives
instead of killing cattle and distributing them. We are going to give each
family 25 properly treated cows, and with artificial insemination, will
will within 15 years have 5 times the livestock wealth we have today. This
we indeed believe is revolution: promptly preventing the anarchic
distribution of land, and instead undertaking agrarian reform which, quite
the contrary, will increase production 5 or 6 times, the only way to save
production. The demagogic way, what seemed more desirable, was to
redistribute the cows. This meant food for today but hunger tomorrow, a
fleeting revolution which would have failed as a result of these measures.

When a series of strikes developed in the sugar industry, which
had begun work late, and which we wanted to reach 5,800,000 tons but which
was 600 million tons short, we had to stop there, when they demanded the
four shifts, at a time when we could have intervened in that industry,
because this could have meant putting the harvest in danger, putting the
revolution in danger. Once again, those of us who were the motive force and
the nucleus of the revolution had to undertake to save it, because we have
seen the state of desperation when there is hunger and all that hunger can
mean to the people. Because if in order to undertake agrarian reform we
must have hunger, let it come, because agrarian reform is necessary, but
what is absurd is to create more -- this is counterrevolutionary and
criminal. There is nothing I can do but to make these statements, directed

to the workers, after going to the Sierra Maestra, after visiting the
peasants and finding that starch, which was 11 pesos, is 13 and 75, and
shoes and clothing are higher still. This is a result in part of
speculation and in part of the fact that the workers who earn high
salaries, six or seven times what the peasants earn, are waging a struggle
to improve their salaries, forgetting the unemployment and the fact that
they are many more needy than they (applause). They forget that the peasant
is earning 2.50 or 3 pesos, and that is is on the shoulders of this peasant
that the increases in salaries which have been won will fall. And I said
the other day that our problem should be to resolve the problem of
unemployment and increasing the income level of those who earn the lower
salaries, and that when there is an increase on an article, and if perhaps
the workers earns a low salary, if it was necessary to increase the price
on an article, not those who earn 70 or 80 pesos, no, but those who earn
two or three hundred pesos and have to pay a little more for an article can
indeed afford it. And those who forget these things are not only not
revolutionaries but show themselves to be more of a reactionary than the
most reactionary of the owners, because this is an attitude which is
inconsistent with the level of the humble man. They are causing
difficulties for a revolution about which there cannot be the slightest
suspicion of catering to foreign interests, because I believe that no
revolution in Cuba, and in very few other countries, has struck at
established interests as this revolution has with its revolutionary laws,
or has dealt with so many obstacles. However, regrettably, we have
encountered such people, because where we should have found the greatest
collaboration, we have not found it. Because collaboration is not only a
matter of applause and parades, but a state of mind and responsibility, not
being carried away by demagogues and politicians who want the revolution to
fail because this is a revolution and nothing else, because after this
there is no need for another and there will not be another to resolve the
problems of Cuba with such very humane measures, because this revolution is
not red, this revolution is olive drab, gentlemen (applause).

And I know that if I have never sold out and never will sell out
to any imperialist or reactionary interest, it is simply because I have the
moral authority to speak here, while very few have the authority to speak
to the workers and tell them the truth. Very simply, demagogues are busy
among the workers of the country, because I see it. They are trying to
arouse the antipathy of the workers, because it is counterrevolutionary to
promote a series of things, complete lack of control of wages, which serves
to disturb the plans of the revolutionary government which is very
conscious of its duty, because its duty is to promote production, which
cannot be abandoned, unless it is replaced by something better. Simply,
what we are dealing with is demands set forth freely and anarchically
everywhere, resulting in the destruction of the control of the state and
the authority of the state, because the problem, the problems which may
arise, in our view, cannot be resolved nor can be we agree to a single
demand without a study of the costs and above all, with the certainty that
we cannot permit the few to benefit at the expense of the majority.

The state should check on all the needs of the people, but we
cannot permit demagogic demands to place the government in a situation
leading to discredit. This we will never permit, because this government is
not about to sacrifice its reputation. What is certain is that we have
noted certain tendencies toward disturbing movements making demands and
claims since the era of Christopher Columbus, putting the government in a
situation in which, if it does not yield, it is made to appear to be the
enemy of the people. This is not revolutionary. The government has
responsibility to carry out its plans, to undertake agrarian reform. It
knows the consequences of agrarian reform, and nothing must interfere with
these plans. All they do is to present us as enemies of the people.
Demagogic action is simply disturbing the plans of a revolution which has
undertaken to do away with all privileges here. Now there are no more
demands there, now there are dead cities, parades, but this is not the
moment to set forth these things, because what interests have we to
sacrifice? What we are doing is simply to the benefit of this people we
have defended so long.

We believe that certain things which are happening should not
continue. We undertook this revolution for the people, but they should not
set these things forth to make the government seem sold out to established
interests, because now we are engaged in agrarian reform, and it is not the
time for disturbance. Why did they not to this in 1952, 53 or 54? Why
didn't they make these demands? Why didn't they undertake this activity in
that era? This would have been the brave and proper thing.

Fidel: There is no merit in setting one's self up as a leader now
to abuse the principles of the revolutionary government, the respect which
exists for all rights, to complain now to disturb the revolutionary work. I
am not going to say demands, because they have become parades, movements
and gatherings such as those in San Luis and others in the province of
Oriente -- absurd movements.

Really I find no reason or justification for opposing the people
in the public forces, and I would like to define and clarify these matters.
There are recent revolutionaries who were not heard from in these recent
years but who are now more papist than the pope himself, more revolutionary
than any of us. This is a thing which has been noted, because they arouse
no sympathy, this is not a just thing. They are counterrevolutionary,
because what can truly bring about the failure of the revolution is not
threats of invasion, because the entire people together would resist them,
fighting for the revolution (applause). What could result in failure would
be hunger, need, which would be the result of error, of the worst enemy,
which is stupidity, demagogy, opportunism, politicking, on the part of
those who now seem to be more revolutionary than anyone -- this could be
worse than all the other dangers. And I say that I fear no danger and no
eventuality, because I know that here every Cuban will fight to the end for
just measures.

But the people can be led to their death through stupidity, the
hunger which overtakes a country and ruins its economy.

After four months in the government, we are encountering obstacles
which have been created as a result of this demagogy, and I want to
challenge them to avoid the continuation of the evil effect they are having
on the revolution. I want to point to these demagogic and hypocritical
attitudes as counterrevolutionary, because all this is a threat and
although it pains us to say so, this attitude toward the government is
hypocritical and counterrevolutionary. They are threatening its
revolutionary plans to carry through a complete revolution which will
radically rebuild the country without terror, without ruin, without
oppressing anyone, allowing here persons who do not think as we do, without
fearing anyone or anything.

Journalist: Doctor Castro, could you expand the idea you set forth
in Holgain, with regard to an increase in wages, and the threat of force...

Fidel: Gentlemen, I have the news about this threat, but are we at
war or at peace? It was not for this that the revolution was undertaken --
not to keep anyone in fear of the revolutionary government which has such
as interest in its people. This is absurd. I had to call upon the military
commander to make them withdraw. These are not the methods of the
revolutionary government, because we will never yield to any demand
involving the use of force. We will not yield to any demand involving the
use of force by any people, because we are not a totalitarian revolution
and we will neither establish a system of force nor tolerate it from

I say to you that this phenomenon of surrounding a barracks is
only seen in wartime. This is a spectacle which should shame any man with a

Why implant terror? We are expropriating the land and
redistributing it, but the 26 July movement takes the human condition into
account. It does not hate the large landowner, because he is not to blame.
His condition has been handed down to him. Then why exert force upon that
family, which already has enough misfortunes because of this landholding
now? These methods seem absurd to me and those who use them or advise them
are sworn enemies of the revolution. What am I to say if I am questioned
about the threatening of a family? Does it make sense for a government
which has overthrown tyranny, which has only worked for the people, which
has faced up to all the established interests, to resort to these
procedures? Whom do they want to intimidate, the owner of the estate or us?
They cannot frighten him much less us, because we have the rebel combatants
on our side to guarantee the revolutionary laws and principles. Can any
decent citizen find these methods proper? We will permit these things and
we are going to unmask those who use these methods and who have recourse to
force, because these things must not be repeated, and if necessary, we will
have recourse to force to defend the law (applause).

Question: Would you say that the overwhelming triumph of the
humanist principle in the recent trade union elections is the best answer
to these extremist agitators?

Answer: I do not know what sort of extremism this is, because what
is counterrevolutionary is not extremist. The 26 July movement is suffering
the consequences of its seven years of struggle against the tyranny, during
which it lost hundreds of its best men, and now its cadres resent these
losses, but the support of the 26 July movement throughout the country is
so overwhelming that in almost all the labor centers, it has won a smashing
victory, although our cadres have been outdone by those who have had time
to agitate and promote demagogic slogans. But the movement had a majority,
and we will continue to practice trade union democracy such that those who
win votes will triumph, rather than appointing trade union officials.

Question: In speaking of the group of extremist agitators, you
referred to communists.

Answer: Perhaps they are to some extent the same (applause).

Tamargo: Returning to the question of agrarian reform, although we
confess that we are not fully familiar with it: when will we begin to enjoy
the benefits of this agrarian reform in the cities, and when will the
redistribution of these farms be completed?

Doctor Castro: The first estates to be reorganized will be where
there are cooperatives. For example, the estate of former Senator Aguilera
in the Yara zone was the first to be reorganized, and the second was that
same gentlemen's estate in the Camaguey zone. The first thing is
production, but in each locality where we organize a cooperative, we inform
the public works sector so that the communities can be organized wherever a
rice growing, livestock breeding or sugar can raising cooperative is
located, so that the families can be grouped at certain sites. However,
this cannot be done, for example, in the Sierra Maestra, where the people
live high in the hills. In the cooperatives created, for example, for rice
growing on the plains, for cane raising or livestock breeding, the
necessary aid is provided -- the dispensaries, the schools, the sports
fields, the homes, by a public works department which devotes itself to
this. There the members of the social welfare groups who will work for that
community live. Thus this is organized on an economic basis -- the
cooperatives. Their fruit trees are planted, crop zones established, and
agrarian reform does not only give the peasant a plot of land for growing
garden vegetables to eat, but to produce income, because the income
resulting from agrarian reform will not be the economic base of industry.
There, too, retail shops, theaters, schools, cultural and economic activity
centers are established, and it will be possible to provide all the
benefits of every kind. There will be workshops, apartments, tractor and
equipment barns there, too, and at each economic center there will be
established a population center with all the public services necessary.
They will have all these services. For example, there are places where we
will have to build 300 houses, because the Jose Marti cooperative will have
30 families. It is the rice farms which yield the most per caballeria. We
are thinking of establishing at least a thousand cooperatives, making use
of the large estates or small land redistribution zones, which will be
organized in cooperatives. We will establish a thousand cooperatives in
three years, as the main agrarian reform project, but along with this we
will have to carry forward an industrial plant, using the resources
available to the government to advance these plans for industrial
development, along with agrarian reform.

Mr. Manach: On what basis did the agrarian law make it illegal for
planters to purchase stocks in a sugar enterprise?

Among other things, this was because the sugar mills monopolized
all the land the industry, and if we are going to undertake agrarian reform
while leaving the sugar mills their cane growing areas, then we would have
done nothing productive. Let us take, for example, the case of a caballeria
producing 30,000 arrobas. We will try to obtain 80 caballerias more of
production, by means of irrigation and fertilizing the crop, and the rest
of the land will be put into other crops -- rice, beans and other things
needed to meet the needs of the people. In other cases, we will have
livestock, which we have planned for the areas where there is no other type
of production.

We are planning to purchase a half a million cows for the
agricultural cooperatives, and we will immediately begin artificial
insemination. We are going to wage a campaign all over the country against
aphthous fever, which is one of the causes of low production in some
livestock herds.

It must be realized that there will be an increase in meat
consumption. We have a great foreign market for meat and meat can come to
be as important a product as that of the sugar industry, apart from the
fact that the peasant will enjoy an increase in such consumer products as
milk and butter. On the cane growing farms which have 2,000 caballerias of
land planted to cane, we will make an effort to see that 1,000 produce and
to ensure the production of another article, livestock breeding if nothing
else. We are also going to establish two types of credit. We will provide
the land and houses, and promotion and development capital is needed. We
will arrange terms of 3, 4 and 5 years, and even 10 where livestock
breeding is concerned, because this sector has its special characteristics.
For example, if a family has 25 cows, one can expect 12 calves a year, but
half may be heifers which will not be taken to market because they will go
to increased production, and the other half often does not pay during the
first years. The livestock cooperatives have lower profits than the rice
cooperatives. Rice may pay off in two or three years, but it takes much
longer for livestock. Thus we will provide annual funds at minimum
interest. During the first three years, they will be able to pay, taking
responsibility for the credit up to seven years. Their production will
permit them not only to pay off credit but will provide basic capital at
the end of 10 years.

We will organize a plant to produce fodder from sugar cane pulp
and molasses. We will plant hybrid corn. We will utilize rice powder, sugar
cane pulp and molasses. We will sell it and we will utilize it for
livestock, and wherever we can grow a crop we will plant pastures.

Journalist: I was asked a question about a farm of more than 100
caballerias devoted to livestock breeding exclusively. Will this type of
farm with more than a hundred caballerias in production continue to exist?

Fidel: The laws says: no person may have more than 100
caballerias. The laws have not been changed nor are we considering changes.
Also we have allowed two years to complete this. What, then, will we
achieve? There will be more peasants in the fields. This means that we will
provide an income of 2,000 pesos per family. Then an industrial base will
be established. Agrarian reform is designed solely to help the peasant to
achieve a better way of life.

We are not only pursuing the principle of intensive production,
not only seeking to create a consumer population, but one which has income
for purchasing industrial goods. And the peasant with 400 pesos a year is
not a consumer, but the peasant with 2,000 pesos is, and if we allow the
large estate owner with 600 caballerias to cultivate it intensively, there
will be intensive production, yes, but no consumers. What we are doing in a
way is to reward well cultivated farms so that their production will not
alter and, so that they will devote concern to intensive production,
because there are few livestock breeding farms which are producing
intensively, we are permitting a limit of over 300 caballerias, but only
when there is intensive production, not just some production, because it is
this we are battling, but a quantity of livestock. Intensive production
expenditures will have to reach 100%, because otherwise it would be one
caballeria for each landholder. For this reason we must establish a very
precise limit, and we believe that those who do not agree to what a farm of
100 caballerias worked intensively can produce are simply those who believe
that they can produce more.

Journalist: What land will be left to the owner?

Fidel: It depends.

Journalist: How will distribution be carried out?

Fidel: It depends, because if they have 33 and some caballerias
and 3 of them are bad, we are not going to give these to the peasant.

If someone has 600 good caballerias and is allowed to keep 470, we
will not allow him to keep the best.

We are confident, and we do not go forth with bitterness toward
anyone. We are building, not destroying. There is nothing to fear, and it
is for this reason that the direction of the Agrarian Reform Institute will
be in our hands. He who must lose 8 caballerias will lose them. We will
take them, expropriate them, pay for them in bonds and put these
caballerias into production. In general, the established interests will
accept this as something for which there is no remedy, and they will not be
so hostile in their attitude.

Journalist: Mr. Tamargo, we are approaching the end of this
program, but we would like first to ask some questions of general interest
of Dr. Castro.

Journalist: I was just going to ask Dr. Castro about his view of
the Guatemalan problem. Here is a cable which says that the Guatemalan
government has announced that there were six vessels...

Fidel: I cannot believe that the Guatemalan government said that.

Journalist: Dr. Marta Fraide spoke with Dr. Gustavo A. Salazar,
and he said that his government has not informed him about this matter at

Fidel: I am not sure whether a Cuban journalist was taken in or
not (beginning to read).

Fidel: It seems that this report came from a not very responsible
agency, because I do not know of any Guatemalan who has gone into exile nor
of any revolution being promoted in this country. Naturally, we have
extensive coastal areas and we cannot know how many vessels are going back
and forth.

When a vessel moves openly, no one thinks of this kind of
expedition. It seems to be a somewhat suspect plot which is beginning to
create a counterrevolutionary atmosphere. And sincerely, when I read this
notice I laughed, because it is really laughable. Gentlemen: we have our
feet on the ground and the people here are determined to do their duty, and
it is better not to be too concerned about international intrigues. We know
what we have to do, and we are already tired of all these false plots,
statements and counterstatements. Now I do not even bother to give
explanations about expeditions from Havana. After seeing the harm which has
come to Cubans in connection with the incident which is the cause of all
these things -- they were imprisoned, after the Cuban government had helped
to solve this problem...

Journalist: Excuse me, Doctor Castro, are you referring to the
Panama case?

Fidel: Yes, for they arrested the members of the expedition,
although officers of the rebel army had intervened, which was done simply
to defend the prestige of our revolution, the prestige of the Cubans, and
this went against the pos[Unreadable text] of the revolution. I confess
that they behaved very badly. It is regrettable, because it is not possible
to keep the people in fear of cable reports. I advise everyone to keep calm
and not to worry about these statements. We are fulfilling our duty and no
one should be afraid, because here there is a people which is confident
that we will never lead the country into danger. We will face up to
necessary dangers, we will take the necessary steps, we will deal with
inevitable consequences, and no one doubts that on the day when it is
necessary to defend our revolution, which is Cuban, we will all fight
together. I know that on the day when we find ourselves involved in any
danger, even the children here, everyone, will fight. Because of the
measures we are undertaking, who would not give his life for the
improvement which the work o the revolutionary government is brining about?

We will deal with dangers, but with necessary dangers, and it will
not worry us to deal with them. But we advise that no concern be wasted on
these plots suggesting that a plane has flown over us, that a plane was
seen in Pinar del Rio, that a plane few over Cuban territorial waters,
because what they want to do is create a problem for Cuba. I do not believe
that after the warning we received in Cuba that anyone has a desire to go
on any expedition, after the ridiculous consequences, despite the fact that
they were Cubans and that we insisted that they be returned to Cuba. After
all, we do not believe it would be easy for anyone to embark on an
expedition of this type, although we are not using police measures of
vigilance, because we do not want to see these police methods. Certainly,
it seems to me that this is some plot promoted by those interested in
creating confusion, and our recommendation is that no one worry about it.

Question: Do you believe that this international plot could be
promoted by the United Fruit Company, which has suffered as a result of the
agrarian reform and which has its headquarters in Guatemala?

Answer: I cannot say this because this would be a baseless attack,
and it is not our habit to make baseless charges. But I see a suspicious
coincidence between agrarian reform and the Guatemalan matter and the
supposed Cuban expeditions to this country, because now there are six, not
four, and perhaps they want to establish some association of ideas between
Guatemala and Cuba. But this is absurd, because there are many citizens
here ready to fight to the last bullet and beyond. There is no possible
comparison between this revolution and that in Guatemala, and it is
ridiculous to make comparisons. Also, our troops are marching better and
shooting better every day, and this revolution is very secure and has its
path clearly traced, and it is has the support of a people and an army who
know what war is. I see in this a propaganda maneuver, perhaps the first
step in some conspiracy being plotted against Cuba, a plan for preparing
the path. However, this people is so firm and determined to defend itself
that it is in no danger. Cowards yield, but a brave people like this one
cannot successfully be attacked by anyone, however great the interests
which urge attack upon it.

Question: Last Thursday you said that the implementation of
agrarian reform might possibly aggravate unemployment in the rural sector
temporarily. In the judgement of the revolutionary experts on agrarian
matters, can it be estimated how long this aggravation of unemployment
might last?

Answer: There is an article in the law which says that those who
have not cultivated their land for two years will lose it, even though they
have less than 30 caballerias. This is to forestall a drop in production.
Also, the establishment of the cooperative and the investment of the 80
million pesos will offset this situation. And it will not be only 80
million, because the interests produced will be invested too. The massive
investment of this money is an antidote against inflation.

We are going to proceed rapidly, particularly with these lands of
collaborators with the tyranny which are not producing. In the Cauto region
we are going to initiate a ten million peso plan, and if we have to spend
200 million, we will. If it is necessary to delay a little in order to do
it better, we will delay a little, but the peasant will not be worse off
than he was before. We are not going to slow down production. There are
some deadlines we have established for achieving our goals, for example we
have allowed a year for converting the corporations into nominal companies,
and as for management of lands and cane fields, we will take the move as we
can put them in production. We will absolutely not hinder a single farm
where we cannot maintain or immediately initiate production. If a case of a
kind of plot to prevent cultivation of the land develops, and we see our
sugar production for the coming year endangered, we will take steps, but
this will depend on the situation. We must guarantee sugar production for
next year, as we must also guarantee meat production. We will establish a
price to maintain it, a price for the producer, which we will regulate so
that no increase or shortage will develop in connection with meat. We are
taking the price of cattle, which is the sector with the greatest
expenditures, because it includes transport, into account, but we are going
to try to resolve this problem of meat immediately. Through the institute
we are thinking of building slaughter houses and four cold storage plants
to which the slaughtered meat can be shipped, as this is a measure much
needed in connection with consumption. Do you know how much cattle lose
when they are moved on the hoof? Well, it is the equivalent of 120,000
head. Each head of cattle driven from Oriente or Camaguey each year loses
100 pounds. But the problem is shipping the meat under refrigeration. In
this connection, the agents should disappear: not physically, but they
should devote themselves to another business. Not only is it necessary to
pay for their profits, but also we are losing 120,000 head of cattle every
year, or their equivalent in meat, and we are dealing with and discussing
the solution with the workers. Simply we are going to carry forward this
plan, because we must adopt the measures which suite the economy of the
country, the measures which will benefit the people, the cooperatives, and
producers in general. We must seek a way of reconciling all interests, but
we are going to carry forward the plan for these cold storage plants, and
we are going to ship refrigerated meat to Havana, the most hygienic,
scientific and economical procedure. And we will do this through the
National Institute for Agrarian Reform, because we are concerned that the
cooperatives and the interests of the peasants benefiting from agrarian
reform should not suffer from a future increase in meat.

If the income level of the people continues to rise, the exact
weight of meat will not be important, but as it is now, it costs 50
centavos a pound and there are 1400 meat sellers in Havana, and they have
to defend themselves by selling 14 ounces as a pound. In the future they
will have to sell properly. These phenomena must disappear. We are going to
undertake this immediately and establish a basis for meat supply consistent
with agrarian reform, because we have no guarantee the price of meat and
its distribution, since the peasants will become great producers and also
consumers, and for this reason we are interested in establishing a price
for meat.

We can say that we will put it at 13 and a half, without discount,
such that meat suppliers can take the pertinent steps immediately, and
agrarian reform will not be taken as the base, because we are going to
purchase the meat, we are going to purchase all the surplus cattle. The
price of 3 and a half on the hoof without discount will be established as a
guarantee of consumer price, and it will be the middle man who is

Thus we are going to find a final solution to the problem of the
supply of all articles, since the revolution can at no time permit certain
manufacturers and sectors to burden the poorer classes, and we will simply
reverse these increases. We are going to put these prices back to where
they were on 1 January, and let them pay what they must, cost what it cost,
because they did not consult the revolutionary government nor the Minister
of Trade before raising prices, and no one can raise prices on products
when this increases their income at the expense of the poor class, because
this would be anarchy and a discredit to the revolution, driving the cost
of living up, and if we have devoted our lives to fighting and have
established revolutionary laws to lower the cost of living for the people,
we are not going to permit now certain interests to deceive the people and
mock their revolutionary advantages. Therefore, we going to take up with
the Minister of Trade the replacement of all these prices at the point at
which they were on 1 January.

We have news from Egypt that Nasser has invited you to visit that
country. Are you thinking of accepting this invitation?

Fidel: It is impossible for me to do so, but I believe that in any
case we should send someone representing our revolution there.

An economic commission could profit from the trip to improve trade
relations with all these countries. I am going to send one of the
responsible leaders of the revolution. Unless some circumstance prevents, I
am going to send Dr. Ernesto Guevara to travel through all these countries,
despite the fact that we have tremendous work to do and we need all the
comrades. We are awaiting the return of the Minister of the Economy before
appointing a representative for this trip. Possibly Omar Fernandez who won
such a triumph at the Cuban Products Fair at the University (applause) and
in the United States will make this trip too to see if he has as much
success there.

Journalist: Doctor Castro, when on your recent trip you spoke of
your humanist doctrine you received tremendous ovations both in Canada and
in Uruguay. Can you tell us what you said which transcended leftist and
rightist barriers?

Fidel: Our revolution is not capitalist because it has broken with
many principles of capitalism which for years were deeply implanted. Our
revolution is not communist either. Our revolution is in a position which
is neither the one nor the other, and in all its characteristics it is its
own kind of revolution. The Savings and Housing Institute will provide
houses to the poor. Our laws are revolutionary and are designed to ensure
the well-being of the people. When you see what the revolution has done at
the first beach established for the people, you will be amazed. There is no
private club with greater comforts. We in our humanist doctrine are
intensely concerned about the people and we mobilize our efforts to the
benefit of the majority. We want to free man from fear, we want to free man
from dogmas, to free society, to free the economy, without a dictatorship
of any kind, without terror of any kind, because the problem is that we
were expected to choose between capitalism, which starves people to death,
and communism, which resolves the economic problem but suppresses freedoms,
the freedoms which are so dear to man. I know that the Cuban people, the
Latin American people feel what a revolution which satisfies man's material
needs without sacrificing his freedoms is. And we are very happy to be able
to say that this revolution has not had to have recourse to terror nor to
massive execution, because during the French revolution the nobles were
guillotined, and the people who executed them ended by being guillotined
themselves. Here we have exerted no pressure on any social sector. We have
respected freedoms and religious beliefs and individual rights, and we are
moving toward the realization of a revolution through democratic measures.
We believe that if we succeed, the Cuban revolution will come to be a
classic revolution in world history, because of its achievement of the
goals sought by the peoples in modern times, because of having respected
the rights and the freedoms of man.

We believe that without social justice, without satisfaction of
the needs of man, there is no possible democracy or freedom. Men are slaves
to all kinds of miseries, and for this reason we demand a regime which
frees the people of all kinds of privations and exploitations. We are going
to bring this about by entirely humane and democratic measures, a goal
which we believe we will achieve because we are moving toward it very
definitely. For this reason we say that we are waging a humanistic
revolution, that our revolution is humanistic because it humanizes man.
This is what the capitalists democratically proclaim, but nonetheless they
mercilessly sacrifice man, and this is also done in the communist states.
For this reason we are trying to wage our own revolution, because each
people must find the path for its own political development within its own
needs,and it is for this reason that we have said that this is a native
Cuban revolution, as Cuban as our music, because each people has its
distinctive music and its distinctive mentality. After all, the old
Germany, highly industrialized and with a very large workers' class was not
a success, and under this social system Marxism was conceived. Today, now
that we are confronted with all of these political problems, we have a
correct established line that will not be changed when the policy of
another country changes, because it is our own policy arising out of our
own needs. This is the characteristic of our revolution, and anyone
studying our history will understand this. We have indeed destroyed certain
conventional theories, the thesis that there would be no revolution without
an army and without a class struggle, for we have not established a class
struggle. And we have a slogan of a national type, supported by the
classes, and we are already carrying out the social revolution. We have
disproved a whole series of viewpoints which had been established as
conventional theory. Communism calls for unity among various sectors and
class war. We want unity among all sectors and all conditions simply
because we are seeking collaboration in all social sectors. And we have
achieved this. The revolution has the support of 90 to 95% of the people,
whom is deprives of nothing and demands nothing politically, adopting
profoundly revolutionary laws nonetheless. And for this reason we can say
that we have a Cuba with its own technology, conditions which are entirely
its own, and which even exert an influence on other countries, for example,
the Savings and Housing Institute we have established has been adopted in
other countries, I believe, and the Agrarian Reform Law and the Abandoned
Sites Law have at least exerted an influence over Latin American countries
because of the way in which they are being implemented. Our revolution is
of no color. It is not red, but olive drab, the color of the uniform of the
rebel army which emerged from the entrails of the Sierra Maestra Mountains

Journalist: I would like to ask you about one matter, Doctor
Castro. This autumn we will be host to the International AFTA [expansion
unknown] Convention, which will be of great international concern, because
of the benefits it may bring us, as for example, in the case of Mexico,
where tourism tripled. However, this is a double edged sword. The
impression it makes may be favorable or it may do harm. Has the government
taken any step toward devoting direct attention to this convention?

Fidel: In what month will it be?

Journalist: October.

Fidel: We must promote tourism, because it is one of our great
potentials. However, what I believe we must do first is to prepare the
country, establishing the best conditions possible, because we believe that
we should invest in a true tourism campaign. I believe that if we do this,
we can bring in 200,000, 300,000, 2 million, 3 million, and tourists can
help us if they come here with foreign exchange. In this connection we have
some plans we want to carry forward. We will study the reasons why they do
not come, lowering fares, if the air lines can do so, and laying plans and
improving the price situations, so that tourists will not feel exploited. I
have thought of holding a meeting with hotel personnel, drivers, owners of
restaurants and other centers, because in this connection we are prepared
to make any sacrifice and to see to the propaganda necessary.

Each Cuban can become an agent of tourist propaganda. But we have
a plan for sending a mission of leading Cuban performers to visit Canada,
the United States and Latin America. It would include Alicia Alonso's
ballet, and it would be sponsored by the Institute of Tourism.

Question: Speaking of tourist attractions, what about full fights?

Answer: I believe most people like bull fights, although
sentimentalists do not -- even if they are not vegetarians.-- and we
respect their viewpoint. Many polls have been taken and the majority are
against them, although we are sure that if a street pool were taken, the
results would favor full fights. But there is another important
consideration, which is aphthous fever. Rightly or wrongly, livestock
breeders, who have succeeded in developing rather fine specimens, fear it,
and any decision must take this basic factor, rather than sentimental
considerations, into account, because there are sports and other activities
which are more cruel than full fighting, for example, large estate owning,
and yet there were very few here who protested against those who were
killing the peasants with hunger. Thus, the danger that livestock would be
infected is the basic problem, because Cuba has no aphthous fever.
Venezuela wants to promote its livestock breeding industry and wants us to
sell it breeding stock, but as we still do not know if we will have a
surplus, we are not selling. They are spending 122 million bolivars
annually on promoting livestock breeding.

Question: Isn't there a scientific way of controlling aphthous

Answer: Well, I have my doubts, because the responsibility is
tremendous. If we were seeking the ideal solution, we would have to do away
even with cock fighting, because it is no more cruel to kill a bull than to
set two cocks to fighting, although there are those who say that the cock
is given the opportunity to defend itself. However, it is a fact that it is
given the opportunity to be killed as well.

The bull has his chance, too, sometimes. The bull fighter goes out
and kills him, but many bull fighters die, too, although this is a sport
for the brave. If we take a look, we will find many things which mankind
has not been able to do away with, and therefore the sentimental argument
is not the strongest. As to Marti and his views about this matter of full
fighting, with all respect for his memory, his work and his influence on
our thinking -- his view with regard to full fighting involved the fact
that it was a foreign sport promoted from abroad, but we believe that above
all he had reasons of a political nature. From the point of view of
tourism, we must consider the broader aspects of the problem, although I
think, however, that, speaking precisely of tourist attractions, there was
a time when we had a number of workers unemployed because we tried to do
away with gambling here, and we had to correct that orientation in order to
help those threatened workers. It seems that our tourists have come for
gambling, but we must develop tourism based on health, the natural beauties
of our country, our beaches -- which without a doubt are lovelier than
those of other countries. But nonetheless, because of this tourism, we had
to allow gambling in our country. We must seek the things which will tend
to improve our country. If we can promote tourism without full fighting, so
much the better, but in this specific case, the disadvantages were those I
spoke of before.

Mr. Wanguemert: With regard to the high rate of traffic accidents,
what measures have been adopted to deal with excessive speeding?

Doctor Castro: This is something which has touched us very
closely, although we do not want this to be interpreted to mean that we are
only led to take the necessary steps to avoid accidents and tragedy when we
are affected or when our interest is aroused. The accident which occurred
was very painful to us, but it must be remembered that the reason for it
was that I did not know who was taking the child home from the school. If I
had known that they would exceed the speed limit I would have had them
replaced, but because my attention was engaged by public affairs I did not
have an opportunity to act in this matter. I have never gone through a red
light, and I do not use an escort or motorcycles when I move. It is very
handy to use motorcycles to take one through all the red lights. On one
occasion I saw a vehicle speeding down 23rd Street, running all the red
lights, and it angered me so much that I chased him until I caught him at
Miramar. The driver was a rebel who said he was going to see a relative who
had been injured. I sent a man with him to find out about it, and as it
developed he had lied, I sent him to La Cabana, on two counts -- first, for
running traffic lights, and second, for lying.

Those who do these things are not rebels, and everyone knows that
there are many individuals who never were rebels, and it is these persons
who speed. The boys who came with us from the Sierra Maestra are too
conscientious to engage in these excesses. However, the fact is there are
many people who have grown beards but do not have revolutionary
consciences. Everyone knows I have not only condemned this, but that there
is a group of motorcyclists lacking only their motorcycles.

This group exists because in the early days, when I learned that
there were men dressed in olive drab violating the traffic laws, I have
instructions for these two companies to be organized to arrest anyone, from
the minister to the private citizen, who violated traffic laws. We will
take away their official plates.

Often I have spoken, urging and insisting that this should stop,
because we are not going to fall into the situation of the Salas Canizares
ruffians and others. Let those who commit these offenses be sent to the war
councils, and let them be given exemplary penalties. And I do not say this
because of my son, who was a victim of an accident. On the contrary, I try
not to allow myself to be affected by reactions of a personal nature,
particularly in this case. But the fact is we hate all privileges, and for
this reason we will take away official license plates, and invalidate them.
These are things we detest, as was the case with the congress members who
had immunity and the policemen who violated the laws. The army will be a
disciplined armed force. Here no one will enjoy privileges. Never will we
consent to violations of the law, because we undertook a revolution against
the army. Never were we permitted anything which involves privilege for
anyone. Everyone knows that the rebel army officials, the veterans, are
noble men who have always had the respect and administration of everyone.
But the thing is a number of individuals have been added, because,
gentlemen, some 43,000 rebels enlisted.

Who could control this kind of bold individual? It was impossible
for us to devote our attention to them. We came to Havana, and the troops
came to Havana. Anyone with a gun could go about here committing
stupidities. There would have had to be another revolution to disarm all
those who simply got hold of guns. We are certain that our army will always
have the sympathy of the people.

Journalist: Doctor Castro, when will the two companies under your
command have their motorcycles?

Fidel: We are saving foreign exchange to purchase them, but this
is so important that even though they cost some thousands of pesos, we will
have to buy them.

Journalist: Doctor Castro, in recent weeks some 20 war criminals
have fled. What does the government plan to do?

Fidel: Pursue them, naturally, as is our duty, but we will also
confiscate all the goods of those who helped them flee.

Journalist: Have all the cases involving war criminals been
transferred to the civil courts?

Fidel: At the time we made our statements, the cases involving
Martinez Saenz and Ernesto de la Fe were being tried. These are two
individuals for whom we have not the slightest sympathy. Martinez Saenz and
Ernesto de la Fe are two major criminals. Do you recall the attack on the
University of the Air? On that occasion, he said it was the Caribbean
Legion. When they left Kuchilan for dead, Ernesto de la Fe also said it was
the Caribbean Legion. And Doctor Martinez Saenz was responsible for
providing 70 million pesos to a government more criminal than that of
Machado. Naturally he has friends, but this does not matter. What matters
is that these individuals were the battle horses of certain campaigns waged
against Cuba from abroad.

They were not going to shoot them then because they did not
deserve to be shot. No, it was simply that they deserved it but from the
very beginning we established the principle of executing the worst war
criminals and the others were sentenced to prison, because if we are going
to execute the intellectual authors here, the vast majority of persons
indirectly responsible for this situation would escape the firing squads
and the prisons. And we said that we would execute the worst criminals, and
in the case of Meruelo, who was an instigator but not an executor of the
plan, he was not executed, but was sentenced to 30 years. These gentlemen,
according to the norms established, were not to be executed, but why should
they not be judged by the ordinary courts? Let them be judged, and here are
the penalties, the crimes, we are submitting them to the ordinary courts.
But the plan to transfer the cases to the civil courts seemed to be a
deception which would immediately speed up these trials, for it would seem
that we lacked confidence in the evidence. This was not the case, because
we can provide the civil courts with this evidence, and the military judges
can provide evidence so that they can be judged. But we want to put them
into the war courts, which have functioned for four months and have
fulfilled their purpose. Penalties have been imposed in the most serious
cases and what we wanted was to continue resolving problems of a legal and
jurisdictional nature and carry them forward. We had courts of a military
nature and we could do this, but since the revolution is no longer in
danger -- although if one day it is, we can always reestablish measures
such as to protect it by legal provisions governing the penal institutions,
but this is not the situation now -- and since we are entering upon a stage
of development, into a fully creative stage, we took the responsibility of
transferring the cases.

Moreover, it was clearly evident here that the executions and the
councils had fulfilled their function, but no one dared to say so because
they were afraid to say things, and we had to say it ourselves, that this
stage is now past, that no measure should be excessive because a government
must know its proper limits, and there are people here who never fired a
short anywhere, but you should see how they want to appear to be
superrevolutionaries now, and they want to kill millions of people.

They had to condemn this woman to death. This was a mistake, four
months after the revolution had triumphed, precisely when we were traveling
through Latin America. Some executions were justified, but no in the case
of a woman, who had not even committed a serious crime. It was a mistake to
condemn here to death. These things provide fuel for the enemies of the
revolution, because it is not necessary to issue death sentences four
months after the triumph of the revolution, because we were abroad, this
was a serious error, because in this very special case it had nothing to do
with the triumph of the revolution. We regard woman as worthy of
consideration, of the greatest respect. What kind of a performance must
this have seemed? We must not on any account allow ourselves to go to
erroneous extremes, and this is the point which should be made clear.
Governments must govern, since it is a government which guides the nation,
and it is upon the government that this responsibility falls. We have the
confidence of the people and we have the responsibility of the
government,and while we are called upon to govern we will not cease to do
so. We must lead the country along the path of triumph, toward well-being
for the country, and not taking curves at 300 kilometers per hour. We are
responsible, and therefore, I have explained that if there is war, we will
go to war together. Each body of troops will carry out the orders it
receives. It is more difficult to do this in peacetime than in war, and
everyone must obey. We are engaged in creative work, and no one should
forget this. We are governing, willy-nilly, we have used persuasion, we
must lead the revolution to triumph, because in our revolution there must
be leadership. The nation has accepted our leadership and we bear the
responsibility. If we fail the fault will be ours. Thus, we have the duty
and the right to guide the revolution in accordance with the policy we are
pursuing, and we will fulfill our responsibility -- excuse us for speaking
in such personal terms, but it is a fact that many responsibilities have
fallen to me, and if we fail, we will take the blame, and I will accept is
personally if I fail. And everyone knows that I talk, I discuss, and I do
not try to impose orders, even in wartime, because then I try to persuade
the men to pursue the struggle. And it is for this reason that that I
believe that to govern is to govern, and not to let one's self be governed.
To lead means to lead and not to let one's self be led. And in this
connection, we will fulfill our duty and we are very clear about and aware
of the responsibility we bear. Everyone believes in the ability of our
government and we cannot deceive the people nor will we ever do so.

What did you say? No, even the mayor of Cienfuegos, who was
condemned to death for the misuse of funds, must appeal to the civil
courts, because this is an order of the army tribunals which must be
carried out, in accordance with the statements of the government. Court
suits against the military will also be transferred to ordinary
jurisdictions, but this will be done by means of a law which is being
studied, and it will not apply to some cases already being tried, for
example, the case of those who murdered Pelayo Cuervo and the members of
the Corintia expedition, and we do not see why they should enjoy any
advantage. Almost all the important cases have been judged, although there
have been some delays. We want all these institutions of a procedural
nature to be established as soon as possible, because there is no reason
for the revolution to sacrifice its reputation by postponing the
effectiveness of certain rights unnecessarily. This is the criterion we are
using, although some fanatical revolutionaries exist.

Question: What are the sensational plans for the Savings and
Housing Institute which you have mentioned to us before?

Answer: The problem of the institute is as follows: During an
earlier speech we said that the people are still characterized by certain
vices, such as gambling, which were developed as habits and have been
inherited from the past. For this reason, we have established the Savings
and Housing Institute, but in its first stage we thought that the people
continued to gamble. We have given great thought to this matter, because we
will never, without defending it strongly, abandon any revolutionary front,
and we will wage the battle against gambling to the end, because it
adversely affects not only the economy of the people but also character, in
promoting the tendency to regard life as a matter of luck. For this reason,
we cannot abandon our determination to battle against gambling, but neither
is it just that families who will live in houses built by the institute
should be burdened by interests. Although the interest was very low, 5%,
the decision we adopted is this. We will not abandon the struggle to
eliminate gambling and if perhaps innovations are being made, they involve
awarding houses rather than money as prizes. Instead of 200 pesos a week,
there will be 40 houses a week. In the event that someone wins more than
one house, he will be given one and given bonds instead of the other, bonds
on the investments of the Savings and Housing Institute itself. However, we
will not abandon the system whereby he who gambles must save his winnings.
They must be saved, because one of the duties of society is to provide
protection against vice. The changes we will make will involve modifying
and improving certain aspects of the law. Instead of the 5% system, which
places an equal burden upon all those who live from salaries or wages, we
have decided to do the following, after a series of calculations. We will
provide houses and graduate the interest on the basis of family income. For
example, a family which earns less than 100 pesos will not pay interest.
The 5% will be divided [balance of text missing from original].