Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana, FIEL Network, in Spanish, Dec. 15, 1960, 0415 GMT--E/F

(Live speech by Fidel Castro at the mass meeting of electric power plant
workers called by the Cuban Confederation of Labor to consider the
expulsion of the leaders of their union)

(Summary)  Comrade electric workers--those who are present and those who
are not:  We must speak tonight with great frankness.  We have already done
so, but today it would be even better to speak with brutal frankness.  We
must talk like revolutionaries of a revolution which is very different from
political trickery and from demagoguery.  We shall analyze the problems as
we have always done in the light of public opinion in Cuba and abroad,
before our friends and enemies.

There have been problems in the electric power plants.  It is very possible
that the enemies of the revolution are jubilant over a problem in the
power plants, because the power plants are made up of a segment of labor,
and the revolution is based on the labor class, as well as on the farmers.
The problem has arisen not merely in a segment of the working class but in
that part of the North American monopolist industries which have been
nationalized by the revolution.  All those who trembled at the thought
that the peoples in all the countries in the world where they have
investments and monopolies might take similar steps; all those who
trembled because of the action taken by the small but brave and resolute
Cuban people, who defied the powers invincible until then, all those people
have derived temporary satisfaction.  Imagine the state of mind of the
leaders of the power corporations whose properties were nationalized.
Imagine--in the midst of the worries of these gentlemen, in the midst of
preoccupations that do not allow them to sleep--how grateful they must be
for those who are capable of giving them one minute of rejoicing.  The idea
that the revolution has had problems among the power workers must have
given these gentlemen special satisfaction and rejoicing, although it may
not last very long.

But why has the problem arisen in this sector of the working class?  Why
does the problem arise precisely in this Yankee monopoly, nationalized by
the revolution?  There has been agitation of late about the electrical
problem.  It is not extraordinary that a problem has arisen in electrical
plants.  It could even be said that it was to be expected.  The problem
does not arise in to her sectors; it does not arise in more humble sectors
of the working class.  It arises in one of the privileged sectors of the
working class.

We are here to speak plainly.  We are not at a meeting of big landholders;
we are talking to workers, and Cubans.  That is why you are here tonight,
have faith in the people.  We did not hesitate to come.  We did not ask how
many would be present.  We would have come here even if only 20 workers had
been present.  We were sure you would respond.

Poor Union Leadership

It is possible that many of the working class are still confused.  We know
that the working masses, day by day, will open their eyes to the truth.
Conditions among the masses of electrical workers, favored the emergence of
these problems.  Conditions among the masses wee propitious, and the
leadership was bad.  The banking workers have given magnificent services to
the revolution.  They had the stimulus of a correct orientation.  But if
their leadership had been bad, we might have had problems there, too.  The
same holds true of any other sector where conditions are much better than
for the rest of the working class, when there is lack of good leadership.;
There are times when leadership is bad, but the working masses are
revolutionary.  There is the exemplary work of the sugar workers in the
early days of the revolution, before the industry was even nationalized.

Under the old system, the workers did not struggle for the class as a
whole, or for the good of the country. Each sector cared nothing about the
interests of the others. The workers sold their birthright of governing the
country for a pittance. That was the mentality that the nonrevolutionary
leaders, the leaders serving the big interests, tried to create among the
workers. The worker was taught not to think of the rest of the people, or
the rest of the working class. We were living in a vicious, miserable
circle. Workers away from the capital, outside of industry, were forgotten.
The workers in better strategic positions to wage a battle for their own
sector did so, and the city kept growing at the expense of rural areas,
which were left further and further behind. While products of the city were
sold to rural areas at higher and higher prices, we wanted to go on buying
rural products at miserable prices. Urban workers were not taught to think
about farm workers. It was only after the triumph of the revolution that
workers off the city were taught the idea of fraternity and solidarity with
rural workers. The working class used to be kept divided.

The only goal for which the working class should fight is to achieve
political power, for the working class is the majority class, the fecund,
creative class, the class that produces all material wealth; and as long as
power is not in its hands, as long as the working class leaves power to
the owners who exploit the workers, the monopolies that exploit them, the
foreign or national interests that exploit them, so long will the working
class be condemned to a miserable existence, no matter how many crumbs from
the festive table are tossed to it by the big interests.

State Serves the People

The state, with the army and judiciary, were all at the service of the
exploiting bosses and big interests, what has happened is that this thing
we call the state, with its organs of power, has today become a tool at the
service of the oppressed and exploited.  Formerly the boss was the Yankee
Pentagon and State Department, and our workers employed by the monopolies
were exploited by those foreign interests.  Now the only owner of these
enterprises is the Cuban people.  Their profits do not to to any foreign
bank or any individual's pocket; they go to the nation, and nobody dares
steal from them.  In their impotence the enemies of the revolution are
therefore trying to sow confusion and to get Cubans to follow them.

The achievements off the revolution are undeniable facts as part of the
revolutionary process we cannot fail to express our pride.  We can do no
less than express our pride in what we have done for our country.

The policy of the exploiters was the policy which had always been followed:
a policy of dividing and confusing the workers. It was easy to be a leader
in an electrical monopoly, but difficult to be a labor leader the estates
of the United Fruit Company. That was something else: the property of a
monopoly. Sugar was subject to competition on the world market, so the
policy of the Yankee monopolies was to exploit the worker until they got
the last bit of life out of him. The situation was not the same in the case
of the electrical monopoly. It was quite different to be a leader in a
Yankee enterprise whose prices were unchangeable, which had no competition,
whose prices were not discussed on the world market or anywhere else. When
the Cubans did try to discuss prices once, it resulted in the fall of a
government and the establishment of a tyranny which sacked and shed blood
in this country for many hears and which assassinated one of the great
revolutionary leaders of the previous generation, Antonio Guiterras.

Who ran things in Cuba?  The company ran the country.  Who paid?  The
people paid.  And what price did they pay?  Higher prices than in any other
American country.  The company gave the orders and the people paid.  The
price was that of a monopoly.  The imperialist company could spread a
smokescreen to show the marvels of imperialism, hiding the poverty of the
Atlantic Gulf, of United Fruit, Chaparra, and others.  Here, as in Central
and South America, in the mines and on the fields, the workers died of

Company Supported Union

It was easy to be a leader in the electrical company monopoly. The leaders
was supported by the company.  What difference did it make if the people
paid the highest price in the world, when the company could cover the
leader, who worked against the interests of the working class, with awards?
With the high prices it received, the company could could give and give,
make concessions, present itself as an exemplary beneficent institution,
but at the same time take from the people over 20 million peso a year.  If
it was easy to be a leader prior to the revolution, it was even easier in
the early days of the revolution, when those demogogic little leaders were
unable to (resist?) the slightest pressure.

Were those leaders hoping for benefits for workers?  No!  To recovering
national wealth?  No!  They were not thinking of the future.  The
leaders--the majority of whom have fled-- were not thinking of the future
of the country, but of establishing their political and union positions.
For them the revolution was reduced to Jan. 1--they could not see much
further than their noses.  For them the revolution was to get rid of the
owners.  But what about the wealth, the future development of the country?
It would still have been necessary to continue begging, for they could only
see two feet ahead of their faces.

It is possible that many leaders did not act in bad faith, but they were
accustomed to getting certain benefits.  Certain things were difficult to
tell the United Fruit Company, but easier to say to the electrical
monopoly.  That plant was in better condition than any other.  How foolish
the company which did not give its workers a minimum salary of (1,000?)
pesos and what a miracle that the leaders made no such demands.

Improvement of Living Standard

Did the Revolutionary Government distribute seed among the people? No! That
was not the policy of the Revolutionary Government? No! The Revolutionary
Government worked on raising the living standard. It reduced the price of
lots, of electricity, the phone rates; it worked for improvement of the
living standard through the reduction of family costs. It is deceptive to
think that living standards can be increased without improved production,
the use of technology in the means of production. The correct policy could
never be the anarchical struggle of various groups. The correct policy was
the struggle to improve the lot of those who were worst off. Before
thinking of the electrical worker, we had to think of the agricultural
worker of the United Fruit Company.

What would an honest leader in the electrical group have done prior to the
victory and after? What would his motto have been although he might not
have obtained a single vote during the union elections? His motto would
have been the reduction of electricity rates. One must not forget that the
money used to pay the salaries was money which came from the worker, from
the newsvendor, the bootblack or busboy, from people who received only 90
or 100 pesos. The poor paid the same price for electricity as the rich. If
this is just, we do not understand justice. If the revolutionary, the just,
the patriotic is not egotism, and if we have a duty of solidarity with the
others, then we have an idea of the task of a true revolutionary. The easy
thing would have been to demand more and more without saying a thing for
the benefit of the people, who paid the highest rates in the world. Those
who adopted the easy way before the after Jan. 1 at the expense of the
people, with the people paying, without ever thinking of the people, got
positions for themselves and their supporters.

We are sure that these honest words, spoken here with all frankness, with
complete honesty, among the electrical workers, these words that are not
flattery, these words that are an analysis and are said without any trace
of demagogy, even at the risk of not being understood by some--those words
will never received praise from any of imperialism's lying agencies, will
never received praise from any newspapers or magazines that serve big
interests, or from the criminals who want to drench our soil with blood. No
praise will come from those sources. On the other hand, from those agencies
and magazines and spokesmen of criminals and traitors came praise for the
demonstrations. What elements, what facts can be praised by the enemies of
our country? Who can they applaud? It will not be men loyal to the country,
not men who take an honorable stand.

The big interests and traitors and criminals will never praise a loyal
stand, true revolutionaries, worthy attitudes.  Tell me who praises you and
I will tell you who you are.  Traitors can be sure of drawing great praise
from enemies of our country.  Creatures so low deserve pity.

Plotters in the Industry

In two years of revolutionary government, wages have been raised for
electrical workers and more jobs provided for them, without sacrificing a
single service provided by the industry. Moreover, the industry was rescued
from foreign hands and given to the people. The cowards who did not lift a
finger during the shameful past have stained the record of the electrical
workers and the working class, and even risked the lives of some of their
comrades with bombs. The shame is theirs, not that of the electrical
workers, who will have plenty of opportunity to wash away the stain. They
did these things without any cause. They did these things even though we
intervened to calm down the disputes in the electrical sector. Their plans
to blow up a power plant, without caring about the many workers employed
there, could have caused a worse disaster than that of Le Coubre. They do
not even conceal their optimism in hoping to make the electrical sector a
counterrevolutionary sector; they do not even conceal their boasting.

The government's policy has always been not to sacrifice any of the
benefits enjoyed by the electrical sector or other sectors.  The government
has always respected those benefits.  Only workers who benefited from
improper practices have been affected.  I will give an example of one of
these saboteurs:  he earned 185 pesos every fortnight, besides which he
always worked overtime, so he received over 400 pesos a fortnight.  He was
thus making 300 pesos more than the administrator general of the sector.
Such immoral practices as working unnecessary overtime were eliminated.
Nationalization has drastically reduced overtime.  What is the
administrator's duty?  To promote immoral practices?  No.  The government's
policy has been to maintain working conditions, but not to maintain immoral
practices.  That is the policy in all nationalized industries.

In the electrical industry the government has saved millions of pesos for
the people, and without sacrificing the benefits enjoyed by the electrical
workers.  Furthermore, since the success of the revolution, more money has
gone into wages for electrical workers.  The government is developing a
minimum electrification program which will cost at least 30 million pesos a
year.  Thousands of new jobs for thousands of Cubans who are out of work
will be created and this is the only correct policy.

We have not sacrificed the benefits of those who have better conditions,
and this never will be the intention of the Revolutionary Government.

U.S. Supports Plotters

On the evening of Nov. 29, employees of the electric company placed
terrorist bombs, which exploded early in the morning of Nov. 30.
Inspection vents were fixed so that it was necessary to have a special key
to open them.  In the Antonio Guiterras Cuban electric company
counterrevolutionaries were active under orders of David Salvador Manso,
who is now under arrest.  Domingo Dominguez held counterrevolutionary
meetings during which it was decided to commit terrorist acts.  The G-2
proved that Fraginals participated indirectly in the events.  (Castro
relates details of various plans to set off explosions--Ed.)

These are the facts. Furthermore, from the data which we have been able to
gather (we have the impression?) that the mechanisms were made abroad. One
thing is certain and that is that Allen Dulles' intelligence service and
the bandits of the Yankee Pentagon have been supplying the
counterrevolutionary elements with a specially high-powered explosive used
by the U.S. Army. All of you know than this campaign is being directed from
abroad, that the explosives are supplied from abroad, that the funds come
from abroad.

The criminal U.S. Government recently reaffirmed its support of the
counterrevolution when it issued a million dollars to help the
counterrevolutionaries and war criminals. As you know, this is simply
inciting people to leave the country, to recruit and to enroll the
thousands of members of the former armed forces who are to prepare abroad a
mercenary organization for an attack, and at home a mercenary organization
for terrorism and sabotage. This cost the life of a pilot recently, when an
attempt was made to get him to change his route and take some henchman to
Miami. This occurred immediately after the million-dollar grant was
announced. Whom are we to accuse for the death of this heroic pilot, if not

What will history say?  It will say that enemies of our people and of our
nation have met with a difficult task.  The enemies do not know to what
point our people are determined to fight and to resist.  The legion of the
mercenaries and traitors, who bow easily to the powerful, do not yet know
with whom they will have to deal.  They do not know what kind of patriots
they will have to fight.  The revolutionaries they will face are not men
who will yield to the gold and political power of yesterday's oppressions.

We know how far the struggle can go and to what extent the enemies of the
people will learn what a revolution is.  They will find out how far a
revolution will go, and its strength.  We have not been wasting time.  We
have been working intensively for two years, and we have spent our greatest
energy in the work.  We know the strength of the revolution, and if the
traitors feel encouraged by the number who have left the country, they
should think of the legions of young men who are maturing; they should
think of the youth brigades, revolutionary soldiers, militia, and volunteer
teachers.  We have worked hard and we have not worked for naught.  They
should realize the force of the people who are organizing, the hundreds of
thousands of men who are organizing and preparing themselves for battle
when necessary, when the time comes.  And they will have a chance to find
out that these are strong forces.

One traitor had the boldness to steal 42 pieces of equipment from his
battalion, and his own battalion was the first to go after him in the
mountains. One courageous militia battalion from Pinar del Rio marched
through the woods to annihilate a counterrevolutionary group within a few
minutes. (Applause) Never had we seen a group of combatants advance as did
those militia, with courage and determination, against the enemies of the
country. This is only a small idea of what the people's combat units will
be when they must mobilize and go to battle.

U.S. Planes Violate Airspace

In the meantime, what are the counterrevolutionaries doing?  The small
pirate planes are again flying from the north and in one night several of
them violated our national airspace.  What will the disgraceful people in
Washington say?  They will say that the plane did not come from the north;
they will say this until we find another plane with U.S. registration
coming from the United States.  They continue to do this without realizing
the type of people they are facing.

For us, any cleanup measure is a sad one. We wish the need to take such
measures had not arisen. But we know that it is useless to be tolerant with
counterrevolutionaries. When a group of corrupt traitors has fallen so low
as to commit such a betrayal of the people as sabotaging the inspection
vents, there is no doubt, there is no room for hesitation ; there is no way
but to act vigorously and clean up the situation thoroughly. Therefore, in
the name of the government, I propose to this assembly of electrical
workers that we assume the responsibility of cleaning up the electrical
industry and clearing out counterrevolutionary elements, so that
counterrevolutionaries may know that the magnanimous revolution can also be
firm when circumstances require it.

We are going to clean up, and do it thoroughly. Anybody who wants to earn a
living will have to earn it firmly, patriotically. As to the others, let
them go where they cannot sabotage, where they cannot serve enemies of the
country. And if they do not want to work honestly and patriotically, let
them go to receive the alms of one million dollars that the imperialists
pay traitors. The revolution will go on, with the good workers and good

We know that you will know how to wipe out the blot and transform this
sector of labor, even though it is a well-paid sector whose benefits will
be expected by the revolution.  Our policy is not to reduce benefits, but
to increase the benefits of those who are underprivileged.  The electrical
sector, like the banking sector and others, will be with the working class
and the revolution--the revolution that took power away from the criminals
and cheap politicians and myrmidons and put it in your hands; the
revolution that ended the tyranny of privileged, of big interests, and
handed power over to the class that creates, that produced, that works,
the class that worked yesterday for the exploiters and today works for the
benefit of the people and itself, and will go on working for them.

You electrical workers are part of the working class, of the triumphant
class, of those who rule the destinies of the country, and you will never
swap the future of the country for a miserable bribe.  The electrical
sector will be among the most revolutionary sectors of the working class.