Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana in Spanish to the Americas 0323 GMT 18 October 1962--E

(Fidel Castro speech at the ceremony inaugurating the Basic Science and
Preclinical Institute at Cubanacan)

(Summary) Comrades, Rector, Deans, and Professors of the University of
Havana, Comrades students of medicine and the other university facilities,
Comrades student nurses, (applause) Comrades of the people who are
attending this event tonight: (Applause) We thought that only the medial
students were going to be here, but we see that there are students from
other branches of the university, and in addition, the girls from the
nursing schools are here. (Applause) We are happy to have them because when
the problems of medicine and doctors were discussed, the nurses were
forgotten. When we spoke of the student associations, the nurses' schools
were forgotten. The nurses and their schools were forgotten, but they, too,
are an important part of the revolution and medical work. If they are left
out of everything what enthusiasm can they have? If they are taken into
consideration then we will have good results from them. Is that not so?

When we were nearing this place, we saw so many people that were coming
this way that we asked them "are we going to dedicate an institute of basic
science or is it the third declaration of Havana?" (Applause) The people
are always present; they come by themselves. Do not tell me that it is the
committees that bring the people; it is the people who bring thee
committee. (Applause) The people are justified in being present here
because this problem is one of the ones which most interests the people;
not so much the people of the cities, as the peoples of the rural areas.
The need is great and awareness of that need is greater in the rural areas
where there have never been either hospitals or doctors. That is exactly
what we will discuss there because everything that concerns the people is
our basic concern. The revolutionaries work for them and only for them.

Why is the government so concerned with the problem of health? Because it
is one of the most urgent of problems and one of utmost importance for the
revolution. The enemies of the revolution have tried to injure our people
in this field.

Figures show that life span in the United States averages 74 or 75 years,
while that of Asia and Africa is 30 years.

In a large number of countries the average life span is 30 years. The cause
of this is poverty and lack of most basic necessities, which means that a
large part of humanity is virtually murdered by the exploiters. The problem
of health is one of the most urgent problems. Our unscrupulous enemies have
tried to injure our people in that field. It is very logical that we Cubans
take great interest in reducing child mortality rates and in increasing the
average life span of each citizen. There can be no more legitimate
aspiration's than these.

Unscrupulous people such as the reactionaries tried to harm our people;
that is to say, they tried in order to serve their ignoble ends to deprive
us of the resources necessary to fight for our lives, to fight against
disease. "Thus, they tried to hurt our people in that vulnerable aspect.
How? By taking away our doctors." Among all the many crimes imperialism has
committed, one of the worst things they have done was their policy of
bribing doctors in an attempt to bring about an exodus of doctors from our
country to the United States. "That meant depriving our country of
qualified technical personnel to take care of our sick, and in effect, it
managed to take away a certain number of doctors. Does this problem worry
the revolution? Yes, it worries it. They knew that they were doing harm,
not to us, not to the revolutionary leaders, but to the people. What hurt
us was precisely that: The inhuman hurt, the cruel damage they caused the
people with that policy."

We know of the desire and obsession of the peasants to have doctors. We
know they are thankful for the hospitals that have been built and the
doctors that have been sent. Previously, we had 9,000 beds in state
hospitals and some 11,000 beds in private clinics. That figure has been
raised to 28,000 in state hospitals. These, together with clinics and
mutual aid hospitals, total 38,000 beds. (Applause)

Everyone knows how the sick were treated in the hospitals before. Many
times they had to sleep on the floor. Many hospitals presented a picture of
frightful poverty. Those were the hospitals where the humble men and women
had to go. This situation has totally changed and the frightful picture is
no longer seen in any hospital.

Everybody knows that a doctor never went to the rural areas. A peasant in
order to see a doctor had to begin by selling a pig, half a dozen chickens,
or something like that. However, when the revolution triumphed and rural
medicine was organized, millions of persons began to receive medical

Naturally, previously the imperialists were not interested in taking away
any doctors, when the people had no medical attention, they were not
concerned with taking the doctors to the United States. Only when the
revolution began a medical program which raised the amount of funds for
public health from 21 million to 103 million pesos, (applause) did they
begin their attempts to take our doctors. Of course the doctors they took
away were not little lambs or saints.

Another thing that prevailed previously was that if a student graduated
from the university after much hardship he was not guaranteed a job
anywhere. Doctors congregated in the capital and the doctor who got any
kind of a job in the city government was considered fortunate. If he worked
in a hospital he received 100 pesos, or 120, or anything.

This will serve to give you an idea of the lack of reasonableness and the
lack of ethics which has characterized the policy of the imperialists and
the doctors who left. The attitude of the doctors who left was a very
ignorant one and I have always said definitely that I am opposed to letting
a single one of them return. (Applause) I consider this a type of crime
which can never be pardoned ever because it is a crime against the people;
against the sick, against the unfortunate. That crime must never be
pardoned. (Applause)

We know, Comrades, that our enemies will become grey-haired, that they will
grow old away for the fatherland. We are certain of that. We are sure that
one day they will weep bitterly because of their lack of faith in the
fatherland, and for their cowardly spirit, and their status of traitors. I
have not the slightest doubt of this. "And I have not the slightest doubt
that one day many of them will beg on bended knees to be allowed to return
to Cuba (Crowd yells 'no'), and if some day, hear me well, the people were
to be forgiving with those who have left, I believe that if there is one
class toward whom they should never be forgiving it is the doctors."

That is a point of view which I maintain, because the path to the solution
of our problems is not to await their return. No. We will never want that
kind of doctor. With whom shall we solve the problems? In the first place
we must resolve them with the good doctors. (Applause) Because we must say
that although there have been some very corrupt doctors, there have also
been very many good doctors. (Applause) Some of them took the oath of
Hippocrates and other that of hypocrites. (Laughter, shouting, applause)
Those who took the oath in god faith did not leave nor will they ever
leave. (Applause) We have to resolve our problems with those doctors.

In certain hospitals the comrades of the ministry had adopted certain
measures to prevent the action of the counterrevolutionaries and
imperialism from depriving the people of certain services such as the
prohibition--measures which denied authorization to doctors who wished to
leave. After discussing this situation we came to the conclusion that
nobody should be forbidden to leave if he wished. "However if there was an
immediate need, or if immediate harm would be caused, we established the
procedure of requiring the request for authorization to leave to be be
filed one year ahead of time in order to give the ministry enough time to
find a replacement. We maintain, and will continue to maintain, the policy
of allowing those to leave who wish to leave. (Applause) That policy will
be maintained, because we, I repeat, must resolve the problems through
other paths, in the first place with good doctors."

"The Cuban society of the future will not produce that type of men for us,
that is, men such as those who leave. The men who in the midst of a society
of corruption and selfishness remained pure have a great human quality and
will serve as a seed and as teachers.

What do the ones who left signify, speaking in medical terms of which I
know very little? It is the same thing as squeezing a tumor (as heard).
Those who have left are the pus. The pus that was extracted when the Cuban
revolution squeezed that society. (Applause) How well the body feels when
pus is eliminated! (Applause)

The mass grow stronger every day. That bourgeois, soft vacillating spirit
of the early days is not seen anywhere anymore. (Applause) These are
another people, more numerous every day, strong, upright, aware. It is no
longer the spontaneous enthusiasm of the early days. Today it is an
enthusiasm born of awareness. It is the enthusiasm of fatherland or death.
(Applause) This has greatly cleared the air. The gringos took the trash and
they have gathered up a number of lumpen (laughter); every degenerate and
corrupt person of this country has been taken away. They have made a truly
marvelous collection. (Laughter) And in addition they have done us a
tremendous favor--one of the few things we can thank them for. (Applause)
They wanted them, they have them.

Well what must we do? Advance and resolve the problems forever. The bitter
times have passed. Now the better times are coming. And what is it that
will repay our people for the repugnant and nauseous actions of the
traitors and deserters? "It is this new mass, this contingent which is
beginning to study, the preset mass--amply purged, although it still lacks
a little tiny bit of purging--of the present university students.

I can say and I can assure you that the medical school has, that our
country has today in the medical school, a formidable mass of good students
and revolutionary students. (Applause) There are some left who are still
thinking of rising with rifles, and in discussing these medical problems
with the magnificent group of leaders and of very responsible and very
serious comrades, in the medical school and all the university, we have
defended the point of view--that those elements who are known, will not be
permitted to enroll in the medical school of the university. (Applause and

"Is it just that the people spend their money, the money of those who stain
their shirts with sweat, the money of the workers, in teaching a little
worm? In giving a degree to a little worm? (crowd answers "no"). Is it just
that our glorious university and university professors work hard so that a
little worm, son of a traitor may benefit? No. And with the enemy? Hit the
enemy hard!

"With these, persuasive work is not worth the effort or, much less, because
they would have to have their craniums prepared and we do not perform that
type of operation here. What must we do in our university then, in the
school of medicine, with these know elements that are left? Do not enroll
them! (Shouting) Let us use all the materials, all the books, and all
facilities and resources of the people for the students who are going to
serve the people. (Applause)

"What do we have right now? We have several hundred magnificent comrades
who will be graduated every year, and who will reinforce the contingent of
revolutionary doctors (applause) and who will give the country the
contribution of a new mentality and a new concept of the function of a
doctor, a function which like the teacher's, the people must hold in the
highest esteem, the highest esteem. It is clear that bad doctors conspire
against the good concept that the people must have of the doctors.

"This mass, year by year, will make a contribution and demonstrate the
firm, worthy attitude of doctors who work, of doctors who earn their salary
by working, doctors free of any spirit of selfishness and mercantilism.
(Applause) The people can very well pay their doctors enough for their
needs and even more, and the people pay the doctors well.

"This contingent will create a spirit which will oppose that selfish spirit
or the remains of that selfish and self-indulgent spirit still remaining in
doctors who charge a high price and only stay an hour.

There are such. There are such. That spirit which tends to corrupt the
student (long pause) that practice of taking a student as an assistant to
carry out certain operations, charge for them, and give the student
something, or using the student as a doctor which some little private
clinics did (long pause) and in discussing these practices with the
comrades from the medical school we said that it was necessary, cost what
it may, mark it well, cost what it may, to put an end to them. Cost what it
may, and when the revolution says 'cost what it may' it says it seriously.

"The comrades of student leadership told us that there are good comrade
students who now make a living doing that type of work, and we said it is
lamentable that good students and good comrades are made victims of such
practices, while at the same time, the people are being deceived. That is
why the government gave its instructions and began to resolve the problem
of those remaining clinics that conspired against a sane policy in this
field which so concerns the people and which has so much to do with the
people. We propose to give other work to any comrades who today is doing
that type of work, or we will make it up to him and help his family, but by
one means or another we must resolve the problem of the working student
because this is already corrupting the student.

"Being paid 100, 200, and 300 pesos, they did not even have any interest in
graduating. What for? Before graduating, or practicing rural medicine, or
receiving a degree for a school (Castro does not finish sentence--Ed.)
Truly a practice which went against ethics, something that must be acquired
by the students, it tended to corrupt the students. We said that the
problem must absolutely be resolved, because we have so much interest in
the doctors, in developing doctors, good doctors. If any student was
working and could not study full time, the country could help him, so that
he could quit working, subsidize him so that he could dedicate all his time
to study because it is logical that a student who studies for five years
and has to dedicate five hours to studying (probably meant working--Ed.)
every day, cannot be as good a doctor as the one who could dedicate those
five hours to study every day.

"Since we are interested in good doctors, we then made the agreement to
subsidize all the students who were working so that from that moment in the
University of Havana a student of medicine would be a full time student. We
did not put that into practice for those in their first year, that is to
say those who enter today. Why? Because that policy of subsidizing the
students who were working could be done with those who were already
studying, but the precedent could not be established that those who entered
school already working would be subsidized.

If that were the case the high school students would be working from their
fourth year, from the first or second year of pre-university school. This
would mean that when they arrived at the university there would be a
veritable drain on the national economy. That is why that concept is not
applied to those who today enter the school but it does apply to all those
who were studying in order to follow a policy which is really correct and
to develop good doctors. (Applause)

We understand that this is what is really useful and of benefit to our
country and that the revolution must put an end to all the practices which
conspire against the present interests, but above all against all practices
which conspire against the interests and the future of the people because
we must above all think of the future, of tomorrow. (Applause)

"Already our people can be assured that all the youths who are studying in
the school of medicine are studying full time, and that we are going to
create, to train doctors in massive numbers of better quality, much better.
We understand that that is a duty the revolution has toward the people.

"Well now, was the definitive solution of the problem contained in this?
No. There is for example a circumstance as follows: Doctors used to cluster
in Havana and in Havana today there are more than enough doctors. That
society heaped doctors in Havana and later they did not want to leave. For
Miami, yes; for Sierra Maestra, no. (Applause) Many of them preferred that
little road abroad to that little road of going to serve their people. So
the doctors piled up in the capital, and there are still too many doctors
in the capital. The problem did not get resolved with the measures we have

"Where is the true and the definitive solution for the problem? Where? With
an eye to the future, the only, the real, the definitive solution, is the
mass training of doctors. (Applause) Today the revolution has the strength,
the resources, the organization, and the men--and the men are the most
important--to begin a plan of training doctors in the numbers necessary.
(Applause) And not only many of them, but above all, good ones; and not
only good doctors, but good men and women, patriots and revolutionaries.
(Applause) Who says the revolution cannot do this? We are already doing it.
(Laughter) The best proof is this event here tonight.

"The professors of the University of Havana have prepared a formidable
doctor-training program. It is clear that it is a revolutionary program and
to carry it out at a time like this, for a formidable program to produce
better doctors in less time, it is clear that to enter the university it
will be necessary to hold at least a bachelor's degree. What does this
mean? It means that it has been decided to accept as a medical student
bachelors in science as well as bachelors in letters after a course which
begins tomorrow.

"By virtue of this decision this Institute of Basic Sciences will enroll
some 800 students, and the University of Oriente, 240. This makes a total
of more than 1,000, more than 1,000 who begin to study. That is this year.
But simultaneously 1,300 students for bachelors' degrees tomorrow begin a
course of 15 months. (Applause) Together with those who graduate as
bachelors, counting academic failures, next year there will enter here or
begin in the university, that is to say right here--but since they are
going to take their 15-month courses, these three months that you study
now, they are going to study in the school where they are--1,250 will enter
the medical school. Simultaneously this year at least 2,500 high school
youths begin a special pre-university course of two years to enter the
medical school immediately afterward. (Applause)

"Afterward there will be a river of medical students, 1,000 this year who
will begin to study in 1966, 1,250 who will begin in 1964, and 2,500 who
will begin in 1965. Of course since the revolution has not worked in vain
it can do this because it has enormous contingents of scholarship students
from whom it can select by interest and ability, and because the revolution
itself has been an educational work since be beginning--take into account
that there were 120,000 high school students when the revolution came into
power, and now there are close to 250,000. (Applause) These are figures;
these are facts. They are the fruits of the work of the revolution. And now
we have to have special courses. And as of 1965 the number of those
studying medicine will not fit in here and in another building like this

"This is the solution, the only and definitive solution. And what type of
student? A type infinitely superior. (Several sentences indistinct) They
will be received with music, with all honors by the student body, (several
words indistinct) everybody will look after them and be concerned about
where they are going to live, the books they will study, their food, their
programs, and they will be students who are going to study all the time.

All the time, because the first year they will be interns. And thus the
revolution can contemplate this magnificent edifice, at least 90 percent of
whose former students must be over there on that side (presumably
pointing--Ed.) converted into a teaching center, a true reason for pride of
our country where 800 from this side are going to study. (Applause) And
they will truly study.

"These, Comrades, are youths of the people full of optimism and happiness
as is logical. They are going to have all the resources and time they need
to study. Some of these youths will finish studying medicine at 20 or 21
years of age. They will have a lifetime in which to continue studying,
learning, qualifying themselves, improving themselves, gaining experience.
This is the future of our country.

"This is the panorama of the future--a future which does not come by itself
but which must be forged--a future which must be made. These are the
prospects which medicine has in our country; and when those gentlemen,
tired, nauseated, disillusioned, rheumatic, and gray-haired get down on
their knees to beg to return, we shall ask them 'return for what?
(Applause) We have here legions of young competent doctors filled with
faith, enthusiasm and ardor. Why do you want to return? To have a house?!

"For one of them? No. How can we give one of them a house while there is
still a worker without a house, while there is still a peasant without a
house? (Applause) No house will be built here unless it is to be given to a
family of the good, those who work, produce and need one.

"Then will come the most bitter moment for them. We will not need them. We
do not need them today. We will need them much less tomorrow. In addition I
wish to say something else. In addition to the doctors we have here, we
have doctors from other countries. (Applause) We have professors from other
countries working in our country. (Sentence indistinct) Not only this, we
can do something, even though above all, even if only of a token character,
to help other countries. Here, for example, we have the case of Algeria. In
Algeria most of the doctors, most of the doctors were French and many of
them left. With four million more inhabitants than we have, and a great
number of diseases left there by colonialism, they have less than one-third
as many doctors as we have. Theirs is a truly tragic situation in the field
of health.

"That is why we, when talking with the students, told them that there is a
need for 50 volunteer doctors to go Algeria (Applause) To Algeria to help
the Algerians. We are sure that those volunteers will not be lacking. Only
50. We are sure that more will volunteer as an expression of the spirit of
solidarity of our people with a friendly people which is worse off than we

Today we can send 50, within eight or ten years we do not know how many,
and we can help our brother countries because with each passing year we
will have more doctors and with each passing year more students will enter
medical school because the revolution has the right to harvest what it
plants and has the right to gather the fruits it has planted. (Applause)

"And our country will, very soon, very soon--and we can proclaim it with
pride--will have more technicians than any country of Latin America.
(Applause) And our universities will continue to grow and the students in
universities will be counted in the scores and scores of thousands and our
teaching staffs will be more and more experienced The years pass by swiftly
and the efforts of the revolution will be seen. We say years, but they will
be years that pass and will permit us to see that picture of 40,000 or
50,000 university students and youths graduating by the thousands and
scores of thousands."

It is only the revolution that can carry out these feats and it is only a
revolutionary people who can carry out such tasks. That is why, comrades,
this is a very important day of joy for our people. Today is a day of
rejoicing for the revolutionaries. The revolution does not limit itself to
expounding ideas but carries them out. The revolution is not a theory, it
is above all facts, and everything the revolution has undertaken it has

This is a product of an idea converted into a reality. It is a reason for
us to be optimistic and believe more every day in the dynamism of a
revolution and the creative capacity of our people. It is a reason for
rejoicing because we know what this signifies, because we know that with
this we are defending ourselves from the lowest blows of the enemy in the
most vulnerable aspect of our people. Because we know that this will mean
scores of thousands of children that will be saved for the fatherland,
because we know that this means the lengthening of the span of life for
each citizen of our fatherland, because we know that this signifies the
creation of conditions not only to fight disease but to prevent disease.
Each day we will have more doctors and fewer sick.

For six months now there has not been a case of polio in our country. For
six months nobody has had the sorrow seeing their children become invalids.
Hundreds of children have been saved.

Through the efforts of the Public Health Ministry, supported by the masses
and the organizations of masses, with inoculations, the revolution fights
disease once more and prepares to save thousands of lives from tetanus,
diptheria, and whooping cough.

In like manner we will fight one disease after another and decrease the
number of epidemics, the number of deaths, the number of victims. We will
go from therapeutic medicine to preventive medicine, that is to say, to
prevent citizens from becoming ill.

The future of our people will be brilliant. Brilliant the health of our
people, when on one hand we fight disease, decrease the number of disease
victims, fight disease to extinction, and on the other hand have
contingents of enthusiastic youths who are the hope of the fatherland,
forgers of the health of our people, saviors of lives, who enter an
institution such as this. That is why we can say today "long live our
university students! Long live the youths who enter these education
centers! Fatherland or death, we will win."