Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 0410 GMT 17 August 1961--E

(Summary) Comrades, leaders of the union branches of Havana province:

When we decided to eliminate illiteracy in Cuba during this year, we knew
it would be a difficult task. We mobilized teachers, voluntary teachers,
and youth brigades. But seeing that half of the population lives in the
countryside, isolated, it seemed impossible to do the job completely even
with the goal of 100,000 literacy workers. When it was a case of defending
our country against imperialist aggression, hundreds of thousands of
workers were mobilized. The time has now come to use this force to help
eliminate illiteracy.

This is the culminating point. This is the proper time to appeal to the
workers and to send them into the battle against ignorance. The CTC has
studied the possibilities of mobilizing workers. It was necessary that
entering into this campaign, the obligation to produce should not suffer.
The possibility was studied of mobilizing 30,000 workers without affecting
production, choosing them according to the possibilities of each
federation, and sending them out as brigades to teach in the countryside.

Despite their varied backgrounds, the members of the youth brigades have
adjusted well. Hardly has one heard of a brigade member having deserted.
They are doing their duty with honor. The students have made their
contribution. Now the workers must make their contribution. In addition to
providing 30,000 brigade members the workers must also work against
illiteracy where they work. It has been discovered that there are still
many illiterates in working centers.

(Editor's Note: At this point Castro cites figures on the number of
illiterates and teachers in each province in 1953 and at present, the
number of graduates of the literacy campaign, the number being taught now,
and other statistics. Five cities have reported having more illiterates now
than in 1953. There are now 100,000 members in the literacy brigades.)

We must continue to find the illiterates and to teach them. Until the total
census is taken, we will not know the right figures. More than 1 million
people over 10 years of age do not know how to read and write. Right now
there are nearly 700,000 either learning or graduated. The number of those
graduated is insignificant compared to the number of illiterates. A supreme
effort is necessary to fulfill our goal this year.

On 30 August, the municipal literacy campaign committees conference will be
held. By then the census will be complete. A gigantic organizational effort
has already been made. Such a thing could not be done without mass support.
It is a great lesson on what a revolution is. It is a lesson to the enemies
of our revolution. Such a plan could not be adopted in many other Latin
American nations. The people are too busy struggling against corruption,
petty politics, and imperialism to mobilize. We constantly get reports of
their demonstrations. They have a more urgent task ahead of
them--liberating their countries.

Mobilization against illiteracy is possible only when economic exploitation
and political oppression are eliminated as they have been here. The
governing class could not and did not care to undertake such a task. The
illiterate masses were a guarantee for their regime. It used to be the
students and workers who protested. Today it is the big exploiters. Of
course they do not demonstrate, but that is because they are too few and
they do not have the courage. Today when the students devote themselves to
building a new world, the discontents and plotters are the reactionary
minority. They are the ones who try to impede the revolution, to sabotage

Imperialism offers educational plans to be carried out in 10 years, they
claim; but they will not be fulfilled. The Cuban revolution will show that
it can be done in one year. It will be not only a moral victory for our
country. This literacy campaign will give opportunities to those who were
denied an education for economic and social reasons. What a pity not to be
able to read and write, not to go to the movies because one couldn't read
the subtitles of the films, which were mostly in foreign languages in Cuba.
Our 1,023,849 illiterates were deprived of the literary, artistic, and
scientific production of humanity. They must be helped, they must be
persuaded that they can study. Some people at first had bad eyesight and
they got eye examinations and free glasses. There can and must not be any
obstacle. When these illiterates have learned to read and write they will
realize what it means culturally, politically, and materially for our

You workers must first of all realize that the illiterates are all poor.
The literacy campaign directly benefits the poor. This is the great
injustice which the revolution is correcting. At the same time, it is of
vital importance for the country. There can be no progress without
education. It is necessary if we are to carry out the great projects in
science and the economy, which the revolution plans. If we are to eradicate
poverty and raise our living standard, this is necessary. It is impossible
for a people to really do their duty without education. That is why we are
so concerned with education.

Once this literacy campaign is over, a mass program will begin. Many
technical schools will start operation, as well as secondary schools. Every
student who completes the sixth grade will have a chance to go to secondary
school. Now there are secondary schools in many places were there were none
before the revolution. Large schools have been built in almost every small
village. All the young people in mills and factories will have a chance to
go on to study through scholarships next semester. There will be 20,000
scholarships for students who do not have secondary schools as close at
hand. Next semester there will be 3,500 students in teachers' school. By
1964, there will be 12,000 with 3,000 graduating every year. There will
also be scholarships for them. We also have 1,000 farmers studying in the
USSR. This will give us a formidable generation to carry on the work of the

We ask the workers to join enthusiastically in this great work for them and
their sons. This will be the most fruitful work of the revolution.

At the same time, we will wage the battle for production. On 25 and 26
August we will meet here with leaders of various groups to set forth our
aims for production. We shall attack this with the same enthusiasm we had
in defending our country and in the literacy campaign. The enemies of the
revolution had illusions of making our people face hardships. But today we
own the plants and the land and can carry out our aims. We will discuss all
our plans, plant by plant. Every minister will tell what has been done and
what can be done. We will know all the materials we have available for the
effort. We will face the problems and solve them. The imperialists will be
left waiting for the fruits of their aggressions against us. They still do
not seem to know what kind of people we are.

We have the resources, organization, and enthusiasm to solve many of our
problems and avoid unnecessary sacrifices. We should all know what the
problems are and how they will be solved so that all the people can
participate in the effort. That is why we are going to have two more big
meetings this month: the meeting to wage the battle of supply and the
municipal literacy campaign committees' meeting. "These two battles are the
two most important tasks. And our third task is the struggle to strengthen
the military defense of the revolution. One must bear in mind that these
three tasks require efforts, the tasks of organization and of military
strengthening of the revolution require efforts, men, and resources."

The literacy campaign and the task of supplying the country require
efforts. These are the three most urgent and immediate tasks of the
revolution. We have no doubt that we will fulfill them. Fatherland or