Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


/Article: Havana, Revolucion, Spanish, 22 August 1961/

Workers in the sugar fields and country people:

A festival like this never could have been celebrated before
(Cries of "Never!"); before, it would not have been possible to bring
together the laborers and the farm workers of this region with the
happiness with which they have met together today. Before, this sugar
processing center did not belong to the people; before, these lands did not
belong to the people, these laborers have worked for the master of this
sugar center, to enrich the masters of all the sugar centers of Cuba, today
have been and are working for the people. Before, these country folk used
to work for the masters of these lands; today, these country people are
working for themselves and that is why there is so much joy here in this
center this afternoon. (applause)

But the joy is not only because of that. There is a special reason
for jubilation this afternoon, and it is that among all the sugar centers
of the Republic, the "Francisco Castro Ceruto" center (applause) has won
first place in the Great Sugar Harvesting Competition for the "Jesus
Menendez" Trophy.

This means a very special honor for the workers in this center and
it means a great honor too for Oriente Province, and it means great pride
also for us, the fighters from the Sierra Maestra (applause). How many
times, from atop these mountains did we look down toward the plain and
contemplate these sugar centers along the length of the Manzanilla coast,
these sugar centers which gave so many fighting men to the Revolution,
these sugar centers which suffered so harshly the rigors of tyranny's
repression, these sugar centers against whose revolutionary spirit the
minions of tyranny and Rolando Masferrer's murderers vented their fury!

And how proud we are today to be able to visit this place no less
than to give the workers of this sugar center the nations First Prize among
all the centers of the Republic (applause) and to give out here the cups
that were won, with their effort and revolutionary tenacity, by the six
centers in each of the provinces of the Republic.

Work of the New Awareness

How did this Center win first prize? This Center won first prize
by increasing production 30.24% over the previous year. That is to say,
that this Center increased production almost a third over last year.

These are the deeds which show more than any other thing what a
Socialist Revolution is (applause). The workers would never have made this
effort for a private company; the workers never would have achieved a 30%
increase in production if they were not conscious that they are working for
the good of all the people, to benefit the national economy.

It was the consciousness that today the worker is not being
exploited, the awareness that workers in this center where they are working
for their own benefit, that they are not now being exploited by anyone,
that those machines belong to the nation, that those lands belong to the
people, the only thing that could have made possible the extraordinary
effort put out by them to achieve such an extraordinary increase in the
production of one year over another. That is what the rationalization of
the sugar industry meant.

Reply to the Magnates

The great magnates thought the people were not capable of
administering the national riches; the great magnates thought that the
country would be ruined; the great magnates though that without them the
country could never move forward; the great magnates thought that if a
humble man of the people, a worker or a young man, like the volunteer
teachers, three of whom have come here today to receive the prizes
corresponding to their centers, thought that if a humble man of the people
was put in charge of a sugar center, that the Center would not move along,
that production would drop off, that the harvest could not even be managed.

Well then, the workers have taken charge of giving them an answer.
The answer is this: one of the largest harvests in Cuba has been taken in
and production has increased considerably, in some cases, like this,
reaching an increase of 30% in sugar production (applause).

That is what has been done in only one year, only in the first
year since the nationalization of the sugar centers when the workers still
did not have a great lot of experience in administration, when the workers
for the first time faced an effort of this sort! And nevertheless, I have
here the results!

Violation of Historic Rights

Why, why was this success achieved? The workers know perfectly
well the history of the sugar industry, the workers know that every year
enormous amounts of cane are left uncut. Naturally, when the sugar industry
passed from the hands of the foreign monopolies and private enterprises
into the hands of the people, the imperialists let loose on us all the
weight of their reprisals. To ruin our country, to bring hunger to our
people and to annihilate our sugar industry, Yankee imperialism totally
suppressed the sugar quota of Cuba on the North American market.

Cuba has been the supplier of sugar to the United States at the
most trying times for that country; Cuba had been the supplier of sugar the
the United States in the First and the Second World Wars. Our country had a
historic right to that market.

When the centers belonged to the monopolies and the great
magnates, when all the earnings went abroad or went into the bank accounts
of a handful of owners of sugar centers, no sort of economic aggression was
taken against our country. It was sufficient that the sugar centers passed
into the hands of the people and immediately the imperialist aggression

How were we able to come out ahead when faced by this aggression?
We have been able to come out ahead for two reasons: because of the proven
friendship of the socialist countries, which immediately agreed to buy four
million tons of sugar (applause) and because of the revolutionary awareness
of the sugar workers.

Suppression of Old Abuses

The imperialist government of the United States thought that by
suppressing the sugar quota it was going to show discontent among the
workers against the Revolution; imperialism thought that upon leaving the
country without a quota, the reaction of the workers would be against the
Revolution which has nationalized the centers and not against the
monopolies which for fifty years exploited the workers (applause).
Imperialism was not capable of understanding the real reaction that it
would produce among the workers.

The workers had been suffering for fifty years, for almost sixty
years they had been suffering the worst exploitation; the workers of the
sugar centers, the can cutters and the country people who lived off the
cane, knew exceedingly well what the injustices were in our fields, what
the abuses of the monopolies were (applause); the workers knew perfectly
well what was the plan of the machete of the rural guard; the country
people knew perfectly well all the abuses that were committed against them;
the workers and the country people knew that the Revolution came to end all
those abuses forever.

The Revolution ended the rural guard, ended the absentee large
landowner, ended the machete plan, and ended all the abuses! The Revolution
recovered these lands and these riches, the Revolution recovered all these
riches from foreign hands to turn them over to the people!

The Shot in the Behind

What imperialism wanted was the return of the large absentee
landowner, the return of the rural guard, the return of the plan of the
machete, the return of the slack season, the return of the iniquitous
exploitation from which our people was suffering. Our workers and our
country people know that they took away our sugar quota because of that!
(applause) The workers and the country people know that is why the Yankee
imperialists took away our sugar quota! And the workers and the country
people know that the workers and peasants like them in the Soviet Union
(applause), in the People's Republic of China (applause), and in other
places...(exclamations of "Fidel" and "Fidel, Khrushchev, we are with you
both") The workers and peasants of those countries, and of other socialist
countries, came to the aid of the workers and peasants of Cuba, buying from
us four million tons of sugar above the price on the world market. And they
have suppled us with all those products of which the imperialist government
of the United States prohibited the export to our country.

And so we can say that the "Shot backfired" on imperialism We have
produced the second largest harvest in Cuban history. We have out
practically all the cane and those lands which used to be left to lie
fallow, will serve now to produce cane or to produce food or to produce
some other thing. But it was absurd that every year about fifteen thousand
caballerias of the best lands were planted with cane that was not cut.

The People Are Ready to Work

So we have been able to march forward and we have not gone hungry.
This has been the most hardworking harvest and the increased employment
that has taken place in our country after the triumph of the Revolution,
showed this harvest in which tens of thousands of volunteer workers had to
go to the country? (Cries of "never"). Before work was lacking for all the
can cutters, and this year there was work to spare, this year men and women
had to come from the city to cut cane. When could this have been seen
before? (Cries of "never"). How could the tens of thousands of men and
women from the city have been mobilized to cut cane voluntarily for the
foreign monopolies and for the absentee landholders of cane? Never!

Now the men and women in the cities were mobilized because they
were working for the benefit of the Nation, for the benefit of the cane
workers' cooperatives, or for the benefit of the small can farmers, for the
benefit of the sugar workers. That is what the Socialist Revolution means.
(applause) It means that the people are ready to work with all their energy
when they are not working for the exploiters, that the people are ready to
work with all their effort when they are not exploited (applause) when they
are working for their own benefit, and when they are working for their own
good. So the people, and the deeds of the Revolution have demonstrated it,
they are ready to work with all their might.

And now there is more work than ever in the fields and when we
have cleared the last stand of marabu we will not have men enough to plant
all the land that we have available, and never again will there be a slack
season in our Fatherland! (Cries of : "Fidel, Fidel")

The Sugar Revolution

The sugar workers have made an extraordinary effort, the sugar
workers have fought a great battle for our economy and for our Revolution.
Our sugar industry was organized on antiquated bases. We have to continue
developing the sugar industry so that with the can production and with the
production of cane derivatives, the sugar industry will be organized on
bases that permit the maximum employment of all the workers in that sector.

We will have finished developing the sugar program when we shall
have guaranteed work all year around, or almost all year, to all the sugar
workers (applause). And that is the goal which the Revolution proposes: to
develop our sugar industry to the maximum, to diversify our sugar industry,
and to develop al the possibilities of the sugar industry so that in every
sugar center there should be work all year 'round (applause). And the
Revolution shall not rest until it accomplishes those goals!

This year several million pesos are being invested in the
construction of dwellings, or on improving the dwellings of the sugar
centers, so this will cut down on the idle time while the Revolution has
not yet been able to do away with all the slack season by way of the
development of the industry.

The Literacy Crusade

The sugar workers have distinguished themselves in a series of
efforts: last year the harvest in almost all the centers was finished in a
much shorter time and that permitted the use of excess resources toward
improving the dwellings and the sugar plants. Here are the immediate
benefits of the increase in production.

At the same time, the presence here of a numerous contingent of
members of the Youth Brigades (applause) is proof of the gigantic struggle
which is being fought against illiteracy. Those mountains are full of young
Brigade members (applause) with whose efforts and the effort of the poplar
literacy teachers we will achieve another goal of eradicating illiteracy
this year! (Cries of "We will achieve")

A hundred thousand young literacy teachers have been mobilized.
When before in our country could a hundred thousand young people ready to
go and teach in the mountains have been mobilized? Never! And the fact that
a hundred thousand young literacy teachers have been mobilized is another
deed that shows what the Socialist Revolution is (applause).

When the people are fighting for their own destiny, when
exploitation is ended, when robbing and pillaging are over, it is possible
to mobilize a hundred thousand young people to go and teach in our rural
areas. And that, that is showing us and explaining to us what the Socialist
Revolution is! (applause)

The Soldier is Not Now an Enemy

All these deeds are magnificent lessons and the people, the people
feel themselves masters of their own destinies. Before, the arms were in
the hands of the rural guard; today, in whose hands are the arms? (Cries of
"ours"): in the hands of the workers and the peasants. And the soldier is
no longer, nor will be ever again be, the enemy of the worker and of the
peasant, but rather the brother of the worker and of the peasant who,
defending the Fatherland, is ready to die along with him and is ready to
die along with him defending his land, defending his factories, defending
his schools, defending his conquests, defending his liberty.

Before, before, when we had to live under the rule of the foreign
monopoly; before, when we had to live beneath the yoke of the absentee
large landowner; before, when we had to live beneath the plan of the
machete; before, when we had to live with exploitation, with oppression,
and in terror, nobody was free.

Today, when there are no longer foreign monopolies, when
now there is no yoke of the large landholders, when there is
no longer unemployment in our fields, when there is no more
plan of the machete, when the people have arms in hand, everyone
is free (applause).  Today, today, when a hundred thousand
Brigade members are teaching in the country and are
eradication ignorance and when three hundred thousand Cubans,
between Brigade members and popular literacy teachers and
workers are teaching a million and more Cubans who did not
know how to read or write, the people not only feel free of the
plan of the machete, from monopoly, from hunger, from unemployment
and the large landowner, but feel free to another humiliating
and degrading enemy:  illiteracy and ignorance! (applause)
And today, today we are all learning; and today we all want to
learn and nobody will be left without learning, because everyone
wants to be truly free! (applause)

Glorious Companions

And that is what the Revolution means.

The workers of this center have received today an honorable cup,
but, in addition, the Revolutionary Government is going to award another
prize to the 351 workers of this center, consisting of a week's vacation
with their wives and two of their children -- and he who does not have a
wife, with his parents -- at Varadero, from the first to the seventh of
September, with transportation, lodging, and meals paid during this whole
week (applause). That prize, as one more stimulus; and that prize will be
established every year for all the workers of the sugar center which wins
first place in the sugar competition (applause).

But, beyond the honor that this prize means for you, beyond the
prestige and the stimulus that it means, there is something worth still
more, there is something that today excites our memories, and our
sentiments, when we think of the men who fell to make this Revolution
possible. There is one knowing that this prize bears the name of a paladin
of the battles for the sugar workers, who fell dead in this very region at
the hands of the agents of Yankee imperialism: the sugar leader Jesus
Menendez (applause). And that the center which has won this first place
bears the name of a hero of the Revolution, who emerged from this same
place, and who fell valiantly fighting against the forces of tyranny on the
Second Front in Oriente, where he went after long months of fighting in the
Sierra Maestra; Comrade Ceruto, as we all knew him (applause).

And that is the reason for greater satisfaction; that if those
comrades, the same as all those who gave their lives in the long effort, if
they gave all that they had, the only thing they had to give, were not able
to see the people triumphant, were not able to see the works of the
Revolution, at least we have the immense consolation that this work bears
their names, and that each center, each prize, each cooperative, each
factory, each school bears the name of a glorious comrade of the
Revolution, that their names may be eternally graved on the heart of our

Fatherland or Death!

We will overcome!