Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana in Spanish to the Americas 0433 GMT 2 October 1962--E

(Live Fidel Castro speech to the First National Congress of the Federation
of Cuban Women meeting in Havana)

(Text) Comrade delegates to the First National Congress of the Federation
of Cuban Women: (Shouting from audience--Ed.) What happened? (More shouting
from audience) When I saw the protest I thought "have they changed their
name?" (laughter) because at the moment I said "The Federation of Cuban
Women" some of you began to say you could not hear. The one who did not
hear well was I. (laughter) However, it appears that you hear better now.
True? Come a little closer.

We said and we are going to say that this congress signifies for our
feminine organization a great step forward. Numbers alone show how much
this organization has grown--from 17,000 to 400,000 members. (Applause) Our
400,000 federated women have just finished holding their congress,
approving their statutes, agreeing on the tasks to be done, that is to say
that they are 400,000 organized women conscious of their tasks. In like
fashion all the mass organizations of the revolution are advancing and this
will permit us to continue with our revolutionary struggle with advantages
which we did not have at the beginning.

Women in society have interests which are common to all members of society
but they also have interests which are their own interests as women. Above
all, hen the creation of a different society is attempted, to organize a
better world for all human beings, the women have great interests in that
effort; among other things, the women constitute a sector which was
discriminated against in the capitalist world in which we lived.

In the world we are building it is necessary that every vestige of
discrimination against women disappear. However, even if from the legal and
from objective points of view all vestiges of discrimination were to
disappear, there would still remain a number of circumstances of natural
order and of custom which make it important for the women to be organized,
to work, and to struggle. In our country, beginning with the problem of
work, there were innumerable activities which were forbidden to women.
Recently the paths have been opened to the activities of women in a number
of tasks. It was very difficult previously to find a women as an
administrator of an enterprise, a factory, a sugar central. It as very
difficult to find a women working in transportation, for example.

It was difficult to find a women working in a number of jobs in economy.
This was due to custom and above all prejudice and the discrimination under
which the Cuban woman lived in the previous society. It is necessary that
women open their own paths, not only in various types of manual work, but
also in intellectual work. It is, for example, significant that in the
course which will begin within a week for preparation to enter into the
medical school, out of 1,200 applicants there are more than 500 girls.
(Applause) This signifies that in the field of science there are women in a
much larger proportion than had been seen up to this moment, and it is so
in other fields. This is not only just but necessary. It is not only just
that women have the opportunity to develop their abilities for the benefit
of society, but it is also necessary for society that women have all the
opportunities to fully develop their abilities.

It is not surprising that that society which wasted everything among other
things wasted the talent and the qualities of women. (Applause). That is to
say it wasted these qualities and these talents. The country needs them. In
addition there are a number of problems which may be termed interests of
the feminine sector exclusively within society, basically those which refer
to their natural condition as mothers. These are problems which belong
exclusively to this sector and which in many aspects makes it imperative
for that reason that society give them special attention and special help.

It is well known how difficult it is for a women to be able to perform a
job if, for example, there exist no institutions to take care of the
children. Thinking of that problem the revolution gave impetus to the
childrens centers. (Applause) Nevertheless, the children's centers do not
resolve everything. Even if there were the necessary number of children's
centers--and this number does not exist--the children grow and when they
are no longer of the age for the children's center they still need someone
to prepare their meals and someone to take care of them.

There are problems relating to a number of tasks called "domestic" which
have enslaved women throughout history. Women need institutions which will
free them from these obligations which require so much effort and so much
human energy. In all that order of things there is much to be done in our
country. We, in conversations with the comrade leaders of the Federation of
Women, have spoken about some of these problems which have already been
included in the tasks and projects of this federation. All have problems
with the children; they have problems with the children when they are old
enough to go to school, and they are not only interested in the childrens
centers but also in the school dining rooms. (Applause) They are interested
in the laundries. (Applause)

I said that you are not fighting for those things. Possibly in the other
organizations they will not think of them. It is necessary for you to
promote and be the ones who work for the various administrative
organizations, including the creation of those centers which may help women
to perform the tasks which today enslave them and steal from them an
enormous amount of time which should be used in production. There are also
other tasks, such as that of cooking at home, a task which custom has
assigned to women. The women are also interested in the workers dining
halls. (Applause)

It is evident that women have extraordinary interests in the revolution;
first, the conditions which will permit them access to proper useful, work;
conditions of a social and legal order, institutional order, and, in
addition, the conditions which will permit them to free themselves of all
those ties that bind them to a number of activities. This does not depend
on laws but on initiative and, since naturally the women are more
interested in this, they are the ones who should carry out these measures.
The revolution gains, the country gains, society gains.

In the same measure that we are a small country with great natural
resources of possible development, we will need more technicians and more
workers to be able to take advantage of all those resources and raise the
general standard of living of the people. That is why we need to
incorporate women into production, but in order for the women to be
incorporated into production and at the same time continue to carry out
that important function of reproduction it is necessary for women to have a
number of institutions and resources within society which will permit them
to be a worker and at the same time a mother. (Applause) Naturally, these
conditions will not be created overnight. In some of them we have certain
limitations. In the children's centers we have said that the basic problem
is in the cost and that each center demands a high contribution on the part
of the state. This, from a financial point of view, constitutes an obstacle
to the unlimited establishment of children's centers. Taking advantage of
this knowledge the other organizations which may be established will
necessarily have to be established on a basis of costs.

Let us give an example: If, in any school which has 300 students, there is
established a dining hall for the serving of lunch to the students to that
they will not have to return to their homes and so their parents do not
have to waiting there at home to cook for them, and that student pays in
that dining hall exactly what that food costs for the nourishment he is
given, then is is possible to furnish a good lunch, cheap, and the dining
hall pays its own way.

We are going to give another example: The child who has lunch 25 times per
month and has to pay whatever the lunch costs--let's say 45 or 50
centavos--that makes 12 or 12.5 pesos. Two children cost 25 pesos; that is
what they would have to pay. This is infinitely less than if the mother had
to leave work to take care of them to prepare lunch of if she has to pay
someone to prepare lunch, because this would mean having to pay someone
plus the cost of the means for the children plus whatever that person would
eat at their home. It would no longer be 25 pesos for two children. It
would be 60, 80, 100.

Now, if when we establish a dining hall in the school we charge 15
centavos, each dining hall becomes a debit, and then dining halls can be
built of 10,000, 20,000. But there comes a time when you can build no more.
If they are established on a pay-as-you-go basis they can then be built on
al unlimited scale, and all that are needed. We are dealing not with
gratuitously giving a service but rather of lending a service, which is
still a great service to all of society. If we do not have the resources
today to give them gratuitously--and it would be an illusion that in this
phase when we have to develop our economy we can give such a service
gratuitously--we can give away very little; we are speaking of organizing
these services.

The same thing happens with the worker's diners. They are very important
for production, these worker's diners. These are dining halls for the
worker who lives a long way from his home, or even if the does not, if he
desires to lunch there, for example, he would save the two hours he would
use to go and come from his house, he would save transportation costs, he
would avoid tardiness, he would not have to perform work at home in case
his wife also works. Therefore, one of the things we must develop are
dining halls in the factories. This, it can be said, is a measure of an
urgent nature.

Since in the coming year our country will have an increase in production
(applause), it is the intention of the revolutionary government to begin a
system of worker dining halls in order that that increase in production, a
portion of it, will directly benefit the workers. In this manner there are
already some workers sectors, as in the case of the miners, whom the
revolutionary government has decided to send special rations of supplies.
(Applause). The lumber workers who work in distant places in the forests,
who work hard, will also be sent special rations. (Applause) The
construction workers engaged in the construction of roads, highways,
distant works, hydraulic works, they will also have dining halls throughout
the island. (Applause) The 350,000 sugar workers (applause) will get
special rations of food during the harvest. (Applause)

Finally, in the first three months, beginning in the capital, because it in
the city which most contributes to solving the problems of transportation,
during the first quarter of 1962, dining halls for 60,000 workers will be
built in our capital and they will furnish good meals at cost and at the
same time without taking them out of the ration book. They will be extra

Meanwhile, during 1963 the main effort will be made in this order of things
in the organization or workers' dining halls. In the following year of
1964, efforts will be principally in the establishment of school dining
halls. This is a logical order. First production, that is to take care of
the needs and the feeding of the workers, because in the same measure that
our production increases, we will have greater resources to resolve the
other problems. However, it is the intention of the revolution within the
next two years to install a great number of these centers, first for the
workers and afterwards for the students. (Applause).

We will endeavor to build an efficient organization and in that
organization many women may work. (Applause) Of course--I do not know if
you know this--in the food handling field access used to be virtually
prohibited to women, and they are the ones who have historically done the
cooking. Nevertheless, in spite of that historic right, they did not have
access to the food handling field.

Since this will signify that thousands of persons will have to work in
these organizations, it will be a sector where many women may find
employment, and for the time being in the worker's dining halls, except for
the first chef and the second chef, who because of their experience within
that workers' sector will be men, women will be used there as helpers but
with the opportunity to advance later. Above all, many of these women,
though serving as helpers, may serve in other capacities in which they are
competent in the dining halls which will be organized the following years
in the schools. (Applause)

We are able to begin to carry out these measures thanks to the fact that
the revolution begins to count on additional resources as a result of the
increases in production. (Applause)

When we speak of increases in production we speak of real statistics based
on absolutely true data; an increase derived from a great effort which all
the comrades of the revolution are making in that sense and whose fruits
are already evident. Nevertheless, we will begin to count as of the
beginning of next year, and the production figures will be compared in a
number of products next year and this year.

That is the way we have arrived at some figures of production, for example
fish, which has been between 60 and 70 million pounds total for this year.
Next year we will have from 60 to 70 million pounds more--approximately 50
percent will be our production and the other half as a result of the
fishing agreement with the Soviet Union. (Applause).

This will permit us to improve supplies in the rural areas. This is
important because historically the capital had a much greater consumption
than the interior and when supplies were apportioned it was done on the
basis of traditional consumption of each region. Now we will have to
increase supplies principally in the interior of the republic. (Applause)
Next year we will be able to take the products of the sea to the rural
areas. We will have millions and millions of pounds of cod, for example, to
take to the rural areas and the mountains, and in general to the interior
to places where fresh fish is not eaten.

There is an increase of production in the factories (not explained--Ed.) of
less than 2 million this year compared to more than 4 million next year,
100,000 cattle more than this year, (applause), thanks to the fact that
slaughter of them was restricted, that the slaughter of cows was not
permitted. This naturally restricted the consumption of meat. This meant
present sacrifices. Another think would have been the authorization of a
wholesale slaughter of all the cattle people wanted. Our cattle herds would
have decreased and within a few years we would have had a very serious
problem without any hopes of solving it.

As for the manufacture of footwear which depends on the number of cattle
that are slaughtered, if during these few years we would have slaughtered a
million or a million and a half cattle, there would have been an abundance
of shoes for every one, but in the coming years there would have been
neither meat nor shoes. (Applause) Would it have been preferable to being
in good shape today irresponsibly to have given up having much more in the
future? That could not be done. We had to preserve our cattle herds. This
will permit us year by year to have a greater consumption of meat, a
greater consumption of milk, a greater consumption of hides. By next year
we will have more hides with those 100,000 additional cattle which are
going to be slaughtered. We will have more than 100,000 hog hides which we
did not have this year.

Year by year we will have more hides. This year some 11 million pairs of
shoes will be produced. However, for 1963 we will already be able to
produce nearly 15 million pairs of shoes (applause). Each year we will be
able to produce more. It is possible that for 1965 we will be able to
produce nearly 20 million pairs of shoes. (Applause) We are interested in
increasing production during the coming year by some 3 million pairs more.

Another thing we are interested in is better distribution of those shoes,
because at this time when everybody has the money to buy a pair of shoes it
is necessary to improve the total distribution of shoe production.

Previously there were shoes to spare, sometimes hides were even exported
but even then there were shoes to spare. For whom were there shoes to
spare? For those who could buy them, but that was based on the fact that
hundreds and hundreds of thousands did not wear shoes. Many children in the
rural areas reached the age of 15 without ever having worn shoes.

Today we do not export hides and still there are not enough shoes to go
around. There is also the problem of quality, in which field a great effort
is being made, and we expect that the effort in that field will have good
results in order that the shoes instead of lasting two months will last six
months or a year--(applause) above all so that the heels do not come off
women's shoes. (Laughter and applause).

In fowl, beef, fish, and pork there are considerable increases in
production. The problem today is to improve supplies in those regions which
have lacked these supplies, that is to say to distribute them with justice.
We said a few days ago that already the greater part of the more serious
problems of our economy are being overcome. Already the most difficult
phase has been passed.

Naturally, in this difficult phase we have counted on a very important
factor; the solidarity of the socialist camp (applause) and very
particularly the Soviet Union. (Applause). This has permitted us to
successfully conquer the hardest phases of our economy. It will permit us
during the course of a few years to develop our resources to such a degree
that with our own resources we will be able to continue forward.

Today we advance with considerable help from abroad. We must be able to
know how to make good use of that help and not waste it, but rather invest
it in productive enterprises, invest it in instruments of work. The
importance of investing in instruments of work is demonstrated by an
example. I will give you one: The first five fishing boats of the Soviet
Union, which arrived at our capital and which will be turned over to Cuba,
are worth 2 million pesos. However the products which these five boats can
obtain from the sea are worth to the public 8.5 million pesos per year.
(Applause). That means that an investment of 2 million in converted into a
return four times greater in the space of only one year. It is clear that
all investments are only equally productive, but we said a few days ago
that we were not going to increase the number of automobiles or luxury

We will, however, see an increase in the amount of instruments of
production, factories, agricultural machinery, dams, highways, and
transportation equipment, because those are the things that will permit us
to raise the living standards of the masses, that is, of all the people.

That is why we must not waste a single centavo, and we must know how to
invest all the help we receive, above all in productive enterprises. That
is what will permit us to effect considerable savings in production, and
advance rapidly in the economic field. Fortunately, our people already
understand these things better. Every day they understand these problems
better, they are very obvious problems. We must dedicate ourselves with all
possible attention to the problems of production. That is our principal
task. We have to produce!

For whom do we produce? (Applause) For whom do we produce? (Applause) For
ourselves! That is to say, the people produce for themselves and nobody
steals from them, nobody takes the fruit of their labor abroad. On the
contrary, from abroad comes more help. (Applause) Nobody takes from us.
They give to us. They help us. (Applause) And not that the people work for
themselves the people have the opportunity of obtaining all they need. How?
With work. (Applause) With production. (Applause- singing-chanting)

Our country is a clear example of what humanity could attain if there were
peace, if the warmongering forces were curbed and were forced to accept a
policy of peace. This is a clear example of what humanity could attain if
the immense sums which are spent on armament were spent on capital goods
and were invested in the development of the poorer countries.

With the resources spent in 5 years, not to say 10, or with a part of the
resources that are spent in 10 years which humanity today spends on
armament there would be enough to develop all the most economically
backward regions of the world. However, who is it that opposes this? Who
are the ones interested in not having peace? (Shouting) Who are the only
ones interested in having the world living on the edge of war? Why?
(Shouting) For a number of reasons, among others because they are merchants
in war. (Shouting) Who is it who oppose, what force oppose disarmament?
(Shouting) It is some monopolies, some corporations which sell billions
worth every year; within the capitalist system disarmament would mean a
tremendous crisis for those companies.

In a socialist country, in any socialist country, in the Soviet Union, what
does disarmament mean? (Applause) Does it mean the ruin of a company? No.
Does it mean that somebody will become unemployed. No. They immediately
dismantle that factory. Where they have been building tanks they begin to
build tractors, trucks, and agricultural machinery. Nobody is left
unemployed and the country will begin to spend that money which it was
spending on war materials on useful goods, productive goods. There would be
no problem of any sort.

In contrast, what would happen in the United States if there was
disarmament? Who opposes it? The companies. Those companies are the first
interests affected. They are interested in the business of war. It is clear
that even the capitalist system could find solutions if there really
existed the will to find them by other routes and not the route of
manufacturing arms. However, the route of building arms is the most
convenient for all these merchants of war. That is why they oppose any
policy of peace.

Besides this the imperialists are interested in maintaining forces with
which to frighten the underdeveloped countries, the colonized countries,
and that is why they oppose inflexibly any policy of peace. However, it is
very clear to all humanity that the only ones interested in not having
peace and those who are causing such tremendous harm to the world are the
merchants of war, principally the Yankee monopolies. They are the ones
which today create these tensions and these problems, among others the
problems with our country. These are problems which the Cuban people and
the Cuban Government are facing determinedly with the support of the Soviet
Union, (applause) and as you have known, our President will go the United
Nations to denounce there the aggressive policy of the United States
against our country.

A proof of the senselessness of the warmongers and who they are, the most
reactionary elements in the United States who promote aggression against
Cuba, is a sign waved by the racists of the South during their protest
against the attempt of a Negro youth to enroll in the University of
Mississippi. One of the signs read: "Federal troops for Cuba, yes; for
Mississippi, no." This was in answer to the pressures of the central
government and the decision of the central government to use Federal troops
to force obedience of the law so that the decision of the courts would be
applied to defend a principal of equality. They said "Federal troops for
that, no--Federal troops to invade Cuba, yes." This is one of the
times--with justice--that it can be said that troops should be used; that
is, to fight discrimination and not to attack another country. However, the
racists, the discriminators who oppose the entry of a Negro youth into that
university prompt aggression against our country.

Against those signs we say "Federal troops against the discriminators, yes;
against Cuba, no." (Applause) Because when Federal troops go to defend the
right of a Negro youth to enter a university they will be doing something
just there within the United States.

When they come to invade our country they are doing an unjust thing. There
(in the United States--Ed.) they can even receive the acknowledgement of
their adversaries because we understand that this is a correct action. Now
an invasion of our country by these Federal troops would not be just.

They would be committing an act of piracy, banditry, a crime, and they
would come here to die like bandits (Applause). That is why those who there
represent that most reactionary line are those who most proclaim the
aggression against Cuba. However, the aggression is no longer a simple
thing, it is no longer a game, it is no longer a pleasure trip by a long

Because they are still living in the past and their mutual clock is still
set 10 or 15 years slow, they shout today what they could have shouted then
but it is something which cannot be shouted today because today things are
different and what would be best for the imperialists is to set their
clocks to the correct time. (Applause) Our free advice to the Yankee
senators, to the little Yankee men who advocate aggression against our
country is to set their clocks correctly. (Applause) They would not then
shout that which cannot be shouted today. They should know that these
invasions cannot be promoted because, aside from being against all laws,
against all morals, against all principles, it is against the very hide of
the Yankee senators and congressmen. (Applause) That is why it is to be
hoped that some signs of the times will warn them that they are living in
the past and to not commit this absurdity.

We hope that they will not commit this foolishness and we say this very
calmly in a country where neither the men nor the women are afraid. Those
senators should be a little more informed as to how the people think. These
people of Cuba are not the miserable deserters, the group of deserters or
traitors who are over their urging the imperialists against Cuba. The
people of Cuba are these here, and what they should ask themselves, those
gentlemen, is what do our men and our wives and mothers think. (Applause)
They should ask themselves if these people are afraid, (shouting) and then
ask themselves why these people are not afraid, (shouting). And then answer
themselves saying that these are a people with the right, these are a
people filled with dignity; full of conviction; convinced that they are in
the right; that they have the right to do what they are doing and that what
they are doing is not harming any country, and that what they are doing is
to the benefit of their own interests without harming anybody. It helps our
country and we have the right to do so and it is not a right which we only
talk about but one which we undertake with whatever sacrifices are
necessary, which we will underwrite with our lives, at any cost.
(Shouting--applause, chanting for about 5 minutes--Ed.).

The Yankee government leaders scorned this country for a long time. They
humiliated it for a long time. They were mistaken for a long time as to the
dignity and the same of our people. These are not those same people whose
sons had to wander throughout the world bearing the humiliation of having
people believe that this was just another state of the North American
union; that the students of the schools of the United States themselves
believed that it was just another key, because they did not even know what
it was all about. The times have passed when a Cuban counted for nothing in
the world. We live in the times in which a Cuban, when he has shame, that
is, one of the Cubans who are with their fatherland, (applause) is received
with demonstrations of kindness, affection, and acknowledgement in any part
of the world, and that the honor must be as high for a good Cuban as is the
same for a bad Cuban. I imagine that they will receive a bad Cuban with the
same amount of contempt anywhere as they will admire a revolutionary Cuban.

That place in the world, that honor, has not been won by our people in a
lottery but rather by fighting, sacrificing, working. That place was won as
a result of many sacrifices and much blood. It is time that the Yankee
government leaders understand and learn once and for all the moral quality
of the Cuban people so that they will understand once and for all why they
have not been able to defeat us, (applause) so that they will understand
why, with all their gold, all their threats, all their blockade, and all
their campaigns, the revolution is going to enter into its fifth year and
they have not been able to do anything to it.

It is time they understand once and for all that they have been defeated
(applause), that they understand that they are vanquished and to leave us
in peace. The problem with us is not of our making, they brought it on
themselves. (Applause) If they brought this problem on themselves let them
rid themselves of it. That is to say, that they give up the idea of
removing us. (Applause)

The problem is when will they finally resign themselves, when will they
leave us in peace? (Shouts of "never"--Ed.) but they will sink faster if
they do not leave us in peace. (Applause) That is the situation--they must
convince themselves, they must persuade themselves. Of course they know
that their hope that we would sink economically has failed, and the other,
the hopes of invading has also failed (applause) because they can no longer
invade us (applause), or at least they cannot invade us with impunity. The
matter is now flour from another sack. (Applause)

What we want is to live in peace. How much will we arm? Until they leave us
in peace. Until they leave us in peace, and simply, we have to guarantee
peace for ourselves. That is why all the steps and measures taken by the
revolutionary government are for this purpose--to guarantee ourselves
peace--to guarantee that they leave us in peace and to guarantee that they
will let us work, because it is hard to have the people work hard for its
future in all aspects, preparing their children for tomorrow while living
with a threat hanging over their heads; with the danger of imperialism
hanging over our heads. (Shouts) It is very sad, and that is why our people
have to guarantee peace for themselves, to be left alone. They say that a
madman with grief is strong, and imperialism is one of these madmen who
knows what he is doing.

Once the conditions for peace are guaranteed we can dedicate ourselves
entirely with confidence to working, and to creating; to produce so that we
all will have everything more in the material sense and more in the
cultural sense. That is to say more of all things. I believe that our
people well deserve it. I believe that the worthy men and women of this
country well deserve it, and they will attain it. That is why, comrades,
now that we will soon enter the fifth year (applause) that is to say that
we are going to finish the fourth year and enter into the fifth, when the
revolution is entering a more mature phase, a very superior organization,
let not the women remain behind. (Applause)

Let the women place themselves in the front ranks (applause) in this
revolution which means so much to Cuban women; in this revolution which
means so much for the children of the Cuban women; Cuban women whose
children are in the schools, in the technological institutes, in the
universities; whose sons are today in the mountains gathering coffee
together with their peasant brothers (applause) Cuban women whose sons are
in our combat units, in our infantry divisions, in our artillery units, in
our airplanes, as soldiers of the people, as soldiers of the fatherland,
Cuban women whose sons and whose husbands are in the work centers advancing
the revolution.

Cuban mothers who like you are in the first place in the heart of every
Cuban must also be in the first trenches in the front rank--in the vanguard
of the revolution. Fatherland or Death; We Shall Win.