Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana, Fiel Network, in Spanish to Cuba, Aug. 11, 1960, 0423 GMT--E

(Live speech by Premier Fidel Castro to concluding session of
administrators of INRA sugar cane cooperatives in Havana)

(Summary)  This meeting originated in a talk we had with (Santorrios?),
general administrator of cane cooperatives, while we were still abed.  We
set the meeting for August, thinking we would be well enough by then, as is
indeed the case.  In any event, we decided not to miss the meeting for any
reason, especially because of the plans we have for the cane cooperatives.
We intended to talk about all the problems connected with these
cooperatives and all the plans we had for them.  But when the meeting
became a broadcast ceremony, to be heard by all the people, we knew we must
talk plainly so that all can understand us.

We have been talking about some things that interest the people very much.
What has been said of the 600 cooperatives gives one an idea of the advance
the agrarian reform has made already, and of the production capacity that
our country is acquiring.

(Editor's Note:  At this point, indistinct shouting is heard in the hall.
Castro then continues:)  I have not heard what the woman said.  I heard the
part that we are doing the same as in the time of Batista.  The woman can
be sure that... (Editor's Note:  Castro is drowned out by shouting and
commotion in the hall.)

"Calm down everyone.  Calm down.  Leave the woman in peace.  Invite her to
retire in good order.  No one comes to present personal problems in a
public gathering.  When this happens, there are two reasons:  Because she
wants to sabotage the act or she is in poor health.  Lady.  "Please
retire."  (Great commotion--Ed.)

The woman has already left. I should say that I have been informed that the
lady is mentally ill, but not a dangerous case. Let us calm down. This is
not the first time this has happened.  Those people are not responsible for
what they do.  We must not bear ill will toward them. (Further
commotion--Ed.)  Besides, anyone could go mad in this country when people
were dying of hunger.

These cooperatives are integrated with the lands which constituted the
(word indistinct) of administration.  That is, the majority of the sugar
centrals, particularly the U.S. centrals, not only owned the factory but
also owned large areas of land for sugar growing.  The system of the
companies consisted of producing cane extensively.  They were not
interested in producing anything else or producing more cheaply.  Thus Cuba
became one of the countries in which land productivity was lowest.  One of
the most serious evils of our economy arose:  Monocultivation.  Cane was
all there was to be seen.

That cane meant juicy wages for the foreign administrators; that cane meant
thatched roofs, rural roads, depotism, theft, exploitation, poverty,
despair, and hopelessness for the country people.  When the last cane was
cut, the officials rested or left on vacation; the country people faced a
period of unemployment.  In the midst of his own land, the Cuban who
planted, cultivated, cleaned, and cut that cane was left with the sad wages
he had earned during the harvest and nothing more.

The profit was going to people who may never have seen a piece of cane, who
had acquired those lands at incredibly low prices.  This was the most
fertile land.  These are the lands that the revolution has placed in the
hands of the workers who cultivated them.

Last year, when the agrarian reform was begun, it was begun on uncultivated
lands or large cattle ranches.  It was said that the latifundists would be
cutting their last cane.  In this matter, as in all its promises, the
revolution kept its word.  The lands were being occupied as the harvest was

One of the principal arguments of the enemies of the revolution was that a
cane crisis would take place with the coming of the agrarian reform.  The
gentlemen who owned the land thought that the world could not do without
their management and administration.  They believed sincerely that the
workers were incapable of maintaining production.

By now they must have had time to see that their ideas were far from facts.
They must also have noted that agrarian reform had resulted in a decline in
production in some countries during the first year of application. This was
because the peasants had seized the land and each had begun producing in
his own way. Naturally there was a drop in production. The enemies of the
revolution, the big landholders and foreign exploiters, thought a group of
men without experience, a nation emerging from cruel exploitation, would
make such mistakes and would fail. Free distribution of the land would have
meant chaos. The peasants did not have clear understanding of economic
problems. Unsupervised agrarian reform would have been disastrous.

But land was not distributed carelessly.  First the people were taught
about agrarian reform and shown its importance.  We cannot say the agrarian
reform has been perfect, but it has been carried out with such order that
it will be an unprecedented example.  Farm production has risen, and this
was achieved by the revolutionary government from the start.  Land not
previously used has been added to the national production.  There used to
be months of the year when meat was in short supply, but this time there
was no lack of meat, even though meat consumption had risen.

Of course our method of producing meat is antiquated.  It is the method
used by the big landholders, who had vast stretches of land with few men to
care for the cattle.  But INRA is studying every means of intensifying meat
production with modern methods that imply maximum land utilization.  The
time will come when every last caballeria will be cultivated intensively,
giving maximum yield and maximum employment.

The first important result is that the big landholders, the privileged
reaction were all mistaken.  Production has been maintained and increased.
This means an improved living standard will come faster than would have
been possible without an orderly agrarian reform.  This battle has been
won.  Nobody can take that away from the revolution.

Well, they sat down to wait.  But what a strange thing!  The government was
not doing badly.  It was increasing production.  This was when they began
the new strategy.  When they understood that we were doing well, they began
the new aggressive strategy against us.  If we had reduced our sugar
production, they would not have taken away any of the quota.  They would
have let us ruin ourselves.  Then they would have said that the revolution
was not well led.  When they took away our quota they admitted their
disappointment at our production; they admitted our triumph in the sugar

Now that you are producing for yourselves, what can you not do?  We are
entering a new era.  The production problem has been solved already.  The
production of the necessary cane is guaranteed.  The 600 cane cooperatives
have cultivated 1.5 billion arrobas of cane.  Sugar production is so good
that INRA, which had (six?) million pesos for new cane fields, has decided
to spend the money on diversification of agriculture.

You already have the cane and the land.  So what must be done now?  You
must try to grow the same amount of cane in a smaller area.  So that will
mean that with less land you will receive the income you now receive.  Cane
may sell at a low price, but other articles may sell at a high price.  You
have a choice to free yourself from monocultivation.  Diversification is
the new goal of the revolution.

It is your duty to make the cane cooperatives into models for the rest of
the nation.  In the same measure that you help the economy of the nation,
the nation will help you.  Wherever it does not interfere with the growth
of cane, you must plant fruit trees.  You must make certain that each
cooperatives produces corn, beans, and other products.  You must do this
because it is in your interest, in the interest of the revolution.

Insecticides will eliminate pests. We will wage war on ferrets so they will
not eat the chickens. Why should anybody stand with folded arms on a
cooperative. The more you do for yourselves, the more the government will
help you with machinery and in other ways.

Many of you may never have seen a bottle of milk or tasted milk since you
wee weaned. Hundreds of thousands of children will be made into healthier,
stronger persons by milk. We must end the problem of children with rickets,
without teeth. It is in your hands. The plan is for every cooperative to
have its own herd, with a minimum of 200 cows. Every cooperative is being
given money to buy 20 cows as a start. Next month we will make another loan
of 2,500 pesos. We will go on making loans until you have 200 cows per
cooperative. It is up to you to make the land work in the best way

(Editor's Note:  A largely indistinct passage, in which Castro discusses
the possibilities of pig breeding in cooperatives, follows.  Castro
continues:)  These pigs will be a source of meat and fat for the
cooperative.  You can experiment in the development of a Cuban breed.

Each cooperative will send a man for one month to be trained in caring for
pigs.  In September all the Pinar del Rio and Havana cooperatives will send
one man to learn about pigs.  In October it will be Matanzas and Las Villas
provinces, in November Camaguey, and in December Oriente.

The cooperatives will not be complete until there is a town for each
cooperative to house its members. The orders for the beginning of the first
10 towns have been given. Six hundred towns must be built, so it will take
time. In the first five years, the profits will be devoted to the towns. It
may take longer or it may take less time. What do we have to begin with? We
have a little cash from confiscated cane. We used the money from the sale
to begin the first 10 towns. We will use soldiers, young brigades, and you
too must work. The cost of the town will be carefully noted, and you will
defray the expense little by little. The towns must have schools, and even
gardens. We will try to go as fast as we can with the resources we have.
Some will have to come before others.

Who will take care of the gardens?  The children of the school centers.
They are going to study during certain hours of the day, and they will
spend part of the day attending to the gardens and parks.  They used to be
the ones who destroyed them; now they will build them.  It is up to you to
organize the children.

(Editor's Note:  At this point Castro again is interrupted by an indistinct
shout from the floor.  He replies:)  Who are you?  Are you a cooperative
administrator?  From what Province?

(Man replies:  from Oriente.)

Old man, how can you say Oriente has been abandoned?  Where are we building
the school city?  The greatest investments of the republic are in Oriente.
Don't say that, old man, because any counterrevolutionary can say that.

More school cities will be built.  Teachers will be distributed in rural
areas in Oriente. So don't get impatient and say Oriente is neglected.
There is a cooperative now where there used to be a big landholding.  The
cooperative belongs to you.  More than 25,000 caballerias of land have been
given to peasants in Oriente.

The revolution has many tasks ahead.  Production is one important task.  We
must go on producing, no matter what.  Every cooperativist must learn to
handle weapons in case the big landholders come to try to take back the
land.  Every man and women cooeprativist must learn how to handle weapons.

The progress of farmers is of interest to workers, to all the people, to
the nation.  The nation today is a single interest.  The deserters in this
hour of glory are sufficiently punished by losing their nation.

There are traitors who enter the service of the empire, traitors who enter
the service of the nation's enemies and try to create problems,
provocations, (few words indistinct) provoked by a group of
counterrevolutionaries who have tried to take refuge in the churches to
combat.  (Editor's Note:  The audience begins shouting and chanting,
keeping it up some 11 minutes, until quieted by patriotic music).

This is a very delicate topic, with which we do not want to arouse
passions.  But suffice it to say that the people's irritation is perfectly
understandable, that public sensibility is wounded and indignant over the
fact that systematic provocations have been made against the revolution for
many months.  This irritation of the people is no chance thing.  We have
not aroused it by getting excited ourselves.

The people have seen how maneuvers with delicate questions have been
carried out to provoke the revolution.  The people know how respectful the
revolutionary government has been in matters of religion.  The people know
and have witnessed how the revolutionary government has even overlooked
these repeated aggressions.  The people know that the revolutionary
government--which is equivalent to the revolution and the people, whose
sentiments it embodies--has remained calm, unruffled, and extraordinarily
tolerant with these provocations, because the revolutionary government has
not wanted to play into the hands of the revolution's enemies by getting
involved in problems or conflicts of a religious nature, in conflicts of
that kind, for the revolution was not waged to fight against priests; the
revolution was effected to fight against big landholdings, and crime.

The revolution has always felt that its reign was of this earth, the social
and economic and cultural problems or our people.  We have given no pretext
to the clergy or anybody.  They have their private schools, their
services, their institutions.  They carry on without restrictions from the
revolution.  They have no complaint to make against the revolution.  The
people have seen the conduct of the revolutionary government in the face of
systematic provocations that obey just one purpose, one purpose of these
scribes and Pharisees, one purpose of the whited sepulchers, one purpose of
they whom Christ called white sepulchers, whom Christ called Pharisees (few
words indistinct).

They never protested against crime, against exploitation, against lies. And
He called them scribes because they were in the service of the privileged;
scribes who did not raise their voices to protest against crime; scribes
who were photographed with the tyrant, baptizing the sons of the boss;
while the sons of the people were being punished, while the sons of the
people were tortured; scribes who did not raise their voice to condemn the
miserable and ceaseless exploitation in which the sons of this land lived
in the hands of the rich and the powerful; Pharisees who were insensible to
the pain of the humble people, to the pain of the poor people, to the pain
of the oppressed people to become servants of privilege and exploitation,
to become servants of reaction.  To betray the poor is to betray Christ.
To serve wealth is to betray Christ.  To serve imperialism is to betray
Christ.  (Commotion in the hall, lasting about 30 seconds).

It is an incomprehensible stupidity to try to interrupt the happy progress
of a nation, the happy development of a nation, and the spiritual and moral
peace of a nation that is united against an aggression by the powerful.

It is stupidity and betrayal to try to divide a nation, to take away the
strength of the fatherland when that fatherland, in its most glorious hour,
is most extraordinary hour, opposes the powerful empire.

It is logical that a country in which such an extraordinary majority
supports the revolutionary government does not support it in vain.  They
support if for a reason:  Because it is a government that does not
steal--and the Pharisees were silent before the robbers; because it is a
government that does not murder--and the Pharisees were silent before the
murderers; because it is a government that does not lie--and the Pharisees
were silent before the false ones who deceived the people; because it is a
government that is just--and the Pharisees were silent before those who
imposed injustice in our land; because it is government that practices love
and the brotherhood of man, love of neighbor and the equality of man--and
the Pharisees were silent before those who preached unjust discriminations
and the inequality of man, just as they were quiet yesterday in the face of
slavery; just as they were silent yesterday and were the accomplices of the
Spanish colonial empire; just as they were silent the day before.

The revolution practices virtue and the Pharisees were silent in the face
of vice and were accomplices of the (word indistinct) because they did not
want to condemn them; the revolution went to the poor people and the
Pharisees have been on the side of the rich; the revolution practices
generosity and the Pharisees were silent before the greedy.

That is why the people are indignant and irritated:  Because they see in
those actions an unjustified and unjustifiable provocation; they see in
those acts unreasonable conduct; they see in those acts the provocation of
a government that has been respectful; they see in those acts the
reactionary maneuver; they see in those acts the events that have taken
place for months--seeking conflicts the revolution has tried to avoid,
seeking division that the revolution has tried to avoid, seeking scandal,
(few words indistinct), scandal that the revolution has tried to avoid;
seeking a basis for the international campaign, provoking
ceaselessly--provoking yesterday, provoking today, provoking tomorrow.

And the people know that the revolutionary government has been respectful
to the maximum point; the people know that these (aggressions?) are
treacherous, that they seek scandal, that they seek to confuse and
discredit, that they seek to place the revolution against religion, that
they seek to place the revolution against religious feeling, that they seek
to portray the revolution as having aspects of aggression and conflict that
it has not had and has no reason to have.

And the more unjustified and unjustifiable their attack, the greater,
therefore, has been the indignation and the irritation of the people.

We have not tried of (word indistinct) serenity and the people know it.  We
have not tried of preaching calm before this, and the people know it.  But
there is no doubt that the American Embassy has sent its last pawns into
combat.  (Applause lasting three minutes.)

There is no doubt that imperialism (few words indistinct) has influenced
Franco so that Franco mobilizes against the revolution as many fascist
priests he may count on in Cuba.  (Cheering for two minutes.)

Not all the priests are fascists.  There are revolutionary priests.  But
there is no doubt that Franco has in Cuba a good group of fascist priests
and that imperialism, through its falangist and fascist influence with
Franco, has been ceaselessly moving its pawns to try to bring the
revolution into a conflict.  That is the cause of the incessant
provocations which the revolution has been suffering.

Our people know how our country suffered.  They know what Franco is, they
know that he murdered one million Spaniards after the war.

Our comrades know it and they also know that the fascist part of the clergy
sanctified and blessed the murders by Franco.

There are two kinds of clergy-part in the service of the great wealth and
part for the poor.  The people can tell them apart.

I would like to see a pastoral letter condemning the crimes of Franco. I
would like to see a pastoral condemning the crimes of imperialism, the
horrors of imperialism. I would like to see a pastoral condemning those who
murdered Sandino, Jesus Menendez, and so many others. I would like to see a
pastoral condemning the bombardment of our cane fields, our cities. I would
like to see a pastoral condemning the economic aggression against Cuba.

That is enough of this.  The revolution remains serene before provocation.
It is strong.  It has extraordinary support from the people.  It knows that
it is strong.  The revolution limits itself to replying because it prefers
to sin on the side of generosity, it prefers to sin on the side of
magnanimity to prove to those senseless peoples how mistaken they are and
to give them time, also, to change their path and to give them time to
reflect, because on that road they will gain nothing more than the absolute
antiparty (few words indistinct).

On them, only on them, exclusively on them will fall the responsibility for
the problems they are arousing with their provocations.  On them and only
on them will fall the responsibility--and not on the revolution because the
people can testify and the world has been a witness to our conduct.

And what will they gain by this?  Multiply the harm they want to do to our
revolution by 1,000--and that is the amount of harm they are doing to
themselves.  Let them have time to think, to meditate, to see how much
they have irritated the people.  People are irritated over what has no
explanation other than treason.  Let the provokers remember the crucifixion
of Christ, and recall that it did not prevent the empire of that time and
the scribes from falling.