Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana in Spanish to the Americas 0317 GMT 25 February 1963--E

(Live speech by Fidel Castro to the closing session of the 10th National
Medical Congress in Havana's Chaplin Theater)

(Text) Members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished visiting and Cuban
doctors and stomatologists: The opinion is unanimous, among those who have
come from abroad and among the Cubans who have taken part, that this
congress has been a great event. Those who have participated in many
medical congresses have had much praise for the way this national medical
and stomatological congress was organized and developed. We must not forget
the stomatologists. (Applause) This is a great satisfaction for our

The comrades here, and the health minister, have given us some data. Here,
for example, is the number of doctors who have participated, the number of
stomatologists, and the total number of persons who have attended. These
numbers really constitute a record. The number of persons who have attended
is not important, but the spirit that reigned in this congress and the
quality of work accomplished is important. This congress will always be
remembered in the history of our medicine, in the history of our
revolutionary medicine. On different occasions, when we were talking with
comrades who organized the congress, who took care of each and every
detail, and to whose efforts the brilliance of the congress is largely
due--headed by Portilla and Valverde (applause), on one occasion before the
congress they showed me that inscription that appears in the background.
You must all have read the last part. Because I did not know what it was
about, I was about to say: "There is a mistake here; it is four years, not
three." They told me: "No, that was written for the first congress, not
this one. But some of those words could apply to the present." It was
something of a premonition at the time it was originally written. This
could not be said after three years of freedom (as heard).

Our forefathers had that illusion. They fought hard for our country. But
their efforts--we know the historic causes, the superior forces that to a
large measure frustrated their sacrifices. It could not be said during
those first years of independence, or of the independent republic. Really
we could not speak of independence. At the time those words were written
there was a shameful amendment in our constitution that gave a foreign
government the right to intervene in our internal affairs. When a nation's
constitution contains such a clause, that nation cannot be called
sovereign. That was the republic of the first years; the republic at the
time of that first medical congress. In that setting, great men had their
dreams. In that medium, which limited everything, they lived their lives;
they laid down their grains of sand to construct in the field of medicine
the road we can take today.

The republic of today is not the republic of those times. That republic was
a chimera, a dream, a wish, an illusion. Today's, under which this medical
congress is held, means sacrifices, yes, difficulties, yes, struggle, risk,
all the inconveniences inherent in a battle for true independence. Today's
republic is not a chimera, it is a fact. (Applause) The men who in those
former times faced circumstances far beyond their strength could not talk
of full sovereignty. Today we can talk of full sovereignty, at the price we
know: Fighting against the same factors which in times past made full
independence impossible, and defending ourselves against them, because in
the world of that time an expansionist force was able to crush the dreams
of independence of a country that had fought for 30 years for independence.
And yet now that the expansionist force acquired its maximum development
and became the ;mightiest expansionist force in the world, it has been
unable to crush our country's dependence. This indicates that the world we
live in today is not the world of that time. Today's world has changed
considerably. And it will continue to change.

This congress has taken place under these new conditions. It is the first
medical congress to be held in a fully independent country. More than that,
other characteristics exist. Some of them have been mentioned by the public
health minister. It is the first congress to be held in the atmosphere of a
new spirit. Has this been easy? No. You know that this has not been easy.

You, who have acquired your knowledge at the university and have acquired a
considerable cultural development to carry out your professional
responsibilities, know that this has not been easy and you understand it.

The development of this new spirit has not been easy because it has been
part of the life of this country in which you were born, have grown up,
worked and studied. You have lived in a moment of profound changes. We
shall set aside the antagonism of ideas, the polemic of arguments, and
shall stick to the facts. The facts indicate that there has been a change,
not just any change, but that there has been a profound change in the
structure and life of the country. (Applause) This can be expressed in one
way--there has been a revolution.

You have all read and heard about revolutions, in good or bad textbooks,
with more or less clarity, with a more or less disinterested interpretation
of history. You have heard and read about revolutions. There are classical
revolutions about which most of us have read--the French Revolution, for
example--which made a hectatomb of the monarchic courts, the counts, the
marquis, the princes, the counts of that social class surrounded by
innumerable privileges. To them it meant the revolution of the plebians,
the revolution of the serfs, of the businessmen, and of the industrialists,
who then were small businessmen, small industrialists, and who together
with the serfs and peasants clashed with that social system.

I support that possibly many of you were fond of such reading. A century
later people were writing about the events that took place them. As you
know, history has not always received the same interpretation. History is a
bit like medicine; it has not always had the same prescriptions or methods.
Medicine today is not the same as then. Humanity advances and learns.
Humanity has learned to look upon its past from various angles. That is the
way humanity learned to observe the life of man from the most primitive
times, from the threshold of what has been called history, with all its
wars, institutions, and social systems. Today, of course, when we read
Greek and Roman history, we feel that the history of those countries was
backward and absurd. Those systems appear most unjust. They disappeared and
new slightly more human systems appeared because feudalism was a more human
system than the previous one, slavery.

Even today no one would accept feudalism. Feudalism disappeared and was
replaced by the capitalist system. Yes, we can discuss this system. At one
time, in the most primitive times, there were philosophers of the slave
system, the apostles of slavery. They thought that the world could not
exist without chained slaves. They thought that the world, that society
could not exist without the slave, because, they said, who will paint, who
will sing, who will philosophize unless the slave works in the fields. Who
will govern and who will argue in the public square? They even discussed
democracy in Athens. Democracy was discussed by Athens by those 5,000 who
were the only ones with any rights, while thousands and thousands worked as
slaves, and other thousands had no rights at all. No one disputes this.

No one defends feudalism; it is anachronous and absurd. Yet many say
capitalism is good and they present it as good. We feel sure that in 50,
100, 200, 300 years--we do not know in how many years--no one will defend
capitalism either, just as today no one defends ancient feudalism or

In the history of our country you will remember how the forefathers of our
independence had to argue with those who defended slavery, in the history
of Cuba, and with those who defended annexation with the United States
because people of those schools of thought existed in the history of our
country. You will ask yourselves: "What does all this recalling of history
and the past have to do with medicine and the medical congress?" Really it
has quite a bit to do with it. Why? Precisely because you have gone through
a stage of transition, a stage of great changes in the country's history,
and in 100 years your great-grandchildren will remember with pride that
their great-grandfathers witnessed these changes. They will be more
objective and calm about these issues.

The Cuban doctors have experienced the stage of complex, profound changes
which we have lived through, these changes with all their problems, with
all their phenomena. Actually, as doctors and stomatologists, you must
understand these things because your profession is a scientific profession.
You like to do research, to learn. Generally, on many occasions, you
conduct a series of analyses and you do research before you can determine
what is wrong with the sick. The same thing applies to society; the same
thing applies to the revolution. We must examine the patient to find out
what is wrong with him. The patient in this case is the revolutionary
phenomenon itself. I won't say that the old society is the patient, because
it died a while ago (Applause) The best thing that can be done now is to
perform an autopsy to find out what it died of. It died a violent death,
among other things. Of course, the revolution is a patient, and on many
occasions we must play the part of social doctors. Of course we can err
sometimes just as doctors do. We are not infallible, but like doctors and
stomatologists we try to be right; we try to understand.

The fact that today in the fifth year of the revolution it has been
possible to hold a scientific event of this caliber, enthusiasm, warmth,
and interest shows that there has been an improvement. It shows that the
doctors and stomatologists--we could lump them in one group--have improved
in quality. Quality of doctors? No. (As heard) Have they improved? Of
course they have improved. What has improved has been the medical
atmosphere. It indicates that a strong column of science is developing and
going along with the historical process. (Applause) For us, this is a
lesson. We who have to concern ourselves with these public, social,
revolutionary and political problems, we must learn something everyday.
Therefore, we cannot forget these days; for us they will always be days
when it became clearly proven that the medical mass had joined the
revolution, (applause) the medical mass and the mass of stomatologists. In
saying this we are sticking to facts. We cannot make propaganda among you.
Generally speaking we never make propaganda. In many things we behave as
you do; we stick to the facts, to reality.

For us revolutionaries this is a cause for encouragement and deep
satisfaction. Why? Because we want more supporters? No. If that had been
our basic concern, we would not have been revolutionaries. Above all,
revolutionaries care about the people. What do you mean to the people, the
service that you render to the people, that is what interests us. The
services you can render to the people are, in our opinion, of extraordinary
value. The social function you fill is of high human value. It is true that
in society everyone's effort is needed. But some tasks are more direct;
others more indirect. Your task is highly humane, direct. The interest that
we revolutionaries have for the people, the interest we have for public
health services to the people, the fact that you are in constant struggle
with death and pain makes you understand it better than anyone else.

Some technicians--not doctors--have complained and have insinuated that we
have shown preference for public health workers. As a matter of fact, we
have perhaps shown some forgetfulness of other technicians, and possibly
their complaints are reasonable. We must pay attention to all of them. But
it is true that we have been quite concerned with public health problems.

At times, as you know, we have criticized harshly and we have spoken
severely of doctors who left the country. It hurts us because from the
point of view of the general interests of the country it is painful when a
teacher, a professor, leaves the country, any type of technician. And in no
other activity is the inhuman aspect seen so clearly as when they take a
doctor away, a doctor whose patent has been operated on in a hospital. If
some cases have been recorded, (we are?) highly indignant. Those who have
tried to promote that policy are the ones who accuse us, the
revolutarionaries, of not concerning ourselves with human sorrow. They are
the ones who try to depict their system as humane. Yet we are the ones who
have suffered because of that policy. We are the ones who have most
vehemently condemned it and shown concern for having more doctors. We have
worked to provide medical care for the most remote areas, and we have shown
more concern for mothers who want their children's lives saved.

They cared for the lot of our people. How can they talk today--they, the
exploiters and the enemies of our country? As if we did not know the
history of our country, our country's past. Only because some people have
powerful conditioned reflexes in their minds can this propaganda have
effect? Only those who care nothing about their fellow men can be
influenced by that propaganda.

In our rural areas people were not only victims of malnutrition and
starvation, they also died without medical care, because there were no
doctors for miles and miles around. What happens where there is no doctor
for miles and miles around? What happens most of the time? Death takes
lives in great numbers. We had many doctors but they were poorly
distributed. While the majority of the doctors were concentrated here in
Havana whole regions were without a doctor. That, of course, produced many
problems including problems for doctors when they graduated. Doctors
emigrated for lack of work. Today a doctor leaves because he does not want
to work, but not because he cannot find work in our country.

Those were the circumstances of our country. How does a conscientious man
think? He thinks that these things are true and that there is a need to
rectify these conditions. Not all doctors and health workers need to think
exactly as revolutionaries or adopt specific ideas. We are not saying that
they should be conscientious revolutionaries or revolutionary
theoreticians, but that they should be humane men, decent men, even in the
burgeois sense of the world, men who are not criminals, who do not abandon
a sick person, who do not abandon their job of fighting against disease and
death. That is why some doctors who think differently from us and have a
different concept of society and history from us have remained at their
posts and have our respect. (Applause) We have a very different opinion of
those who have abandoned their posts.

It must never be forgotten, of course, that there can be extenuating
circumstances where individuals are concerned. We must not forget that
under certain circumstances there was a much less favorable atmosphere. We
must not forget that. Factors and circumstances influence decisions of
individuals. That is true. We must always stick to the essential--the sense
of honor and responsibility a health worker must possess, his sense of
responsibility and his sense of mission.

When we met 16 months ago the circumstances were different. There is no
doubt that since then we have made quite a bit of progress. It is an
indisputable fact that since then the atmosphere for the public health
worker has changed considerably, improved considerably. This is not a
spontaneous phenomenon. It is in part due to efforts we made. This shows
that every effort affects the revolution. The revolutionaries must be made
to remember that it is not enough to be right; they must remember that it
is not enough to know that they are defending a just cause. They must know
how to defend that cause well, to defend their reasoning, and to know how
to apply intelligently methods to obtain the best result.

The mobilizing of health workers shows several things: First, the influence
of their own social function, their own profession and work, that is, the
human nature of your work; second, the result of the great effort which the
revolution has made in the public health field and the undeniable justice
of the effort being made, because all the efforts of the revolution are
just, whatever may be its organizational deficiencies, its errors in
methodology, its lack of tact.

Yes, there has been lack of tack 20 times over. We recall, for example,
the purges of the university professors. There were professors who were not
worthy of being university professors, but we also recall that there were
some young inexperienced people who, like bulls in a china closet, were
involved in the matter. Some of them left a while ago. Those people
offended and mistreated how many people we do not know. Of course, our
revolution does not deny these things. I do not know if we will be blamed
also for somethings we cannot help. That would be the same as blaming a
doctor for labor pains. There are inevitable things in a revolutionary
birth. These things have taken place, and we must struggle to prevent all
errors in methodology, lack of tact, errors which hurt our revolution. The
poor revolution is always a victim of errors of the revolutionaries, and in
some cases of those who pass as such and never were. After all, we must
defend the revolution even from our own mistakes.

Of course this did not create a proper atmosphere. Why all these mistakes?
Because many young people did not know even what a revolution was. They
knew things were done this or that way, or by spontaneous generation, or
because it was written in a book, or by virtue of a historical law.
However, historical law does not work without man but with man; it is
closely related to man's acts. Many errors were naturally the product of
inexperience, better still, of people who did not know. And we must
understand that sometimes those with the best intentions do wrong things.
They did not contribute to the creation of a proper atmosphere. Of course,
this was not the only reason. Possibly there were secondary reasons: There
were more basic issues--the class struggle, the struggle of interests,
ideas, and many other things. The inevitable measures which a revolution
always brings cause strong classes of interests. I am not talking about the
things that are inevitable in the revolution. Related to this is all the
organizational work, the correct treatment of issues.

Therefore, there existed a certain time an antimedical atmosphere. I don't
know if it concerned stomatologists too. But there was definitely an
antimedical atmosphere due to generalization of attitudes--that a certain
doctor had done this or that; that a doctor had gone; and that a certain
doctor was conspiring, and so forth. It is undoubtedly true that the
profession, in certain cases, was well paid. It was due too to the
mentality of our doctors and to the society that formed our doctors.
Logically, society influenced our doctors to quite a degree. These causes
influenced the creation of an antimedical atmosphere. The doctors
complained about this hostility, this lack of consideration.

We began to fight against all these things. The assembly held 16 months ago
was also the beginning of a great effort to correct a series of errors in
methodology, to initiate a proper policy toward doctors. We can not think
under any circumstances that the effort changed the atmosphere. No. We
really think with all sincerity that what has changed the atmosphere is
your quality. You have treated the problems correctly, or at least you had
the right intentions and you made a sincere effort to deal with the
problems adequately.

Can one think that a decent doctor, a decent stomatologist, must clash with
the revolution? Can one think that a human man must clash with the efforts
being made by a country for the benefit of the country and its sons? Can a
just and humane man clash with this effort and forget all the silly things
like the socialization of medicine and the story about patria potestas?

Anyone who knows about the state schools and the work involved, the
resources and the efforts needed to organize them properly to render good
services, to educate these young people, would laugh at those stories.
There are many unavoidable legends in any process such as ours. These are
old inventions. The counterrevolutionaries here did not invent one single
new thing. Everyone here knows that we have invented some things. The
counterrevolutionaries have not invented one single new lie. Some of these
things were invented by the people. We have explained that this was a
transitory process and that it would be impractical to try to impose our
system; it must be the product of development, of the training of new
technicians. That was a stage, and the doctors did not have to concern
themselves with those rumors and lies.

Some of these things influenced a few people. But the basic question is:
Can an honest man, a just man be opposed to what the revolution is doing,
and particularly to what the revolution is doing in the field of public
health? We knew what was involved in all aspects; how the public hospitals
were. In many cases they were terrible places, where the sick slept on the
floor. Everyone knows, too, how a doctor had to study and the difficulties
he had to face while studying in our country. Everyone knows the conditions
which existed in the university; at times a professor taught a class of 800
to 1000 students. There were no facilities for study. Everyone knows how
the good doctors were practically self taught because they worked in some
hospital or were helped by some experienced doctor. We know that story.
When we analyze that past in the light of what is being done today, there
is no comparison of any kind.

Efforts are being made to take medicine to every corner of the country.
Statistics reveal the extent of that effort. When one compares the fact
that from 1954 to 1959, some 200,000 people were vaccinated in one year,
when all this analyzed, a just person, an honorable person, cannot be
against it. He may object to some official, and say that such and such a
hospital director is extremely disagreeable. Maybe some people are
disagreeable. We find disagreeable people everywhere. It is a matter of
character and temperament. I have know good revolutionaries who are
disagreeable. We find people like that every day.

The course of public health now cannot be compared to the situation which
existed in the past. I am talking of direct attention, direct medical care
and preventive medicine. We must try to develop therapeutic and preventive
medicine to the maximum. We are fighting the to deepest causes because no
preventive or curative medicine can do a thing against a lack of proteins,
of hygienic conditions, of nutrition. The living conditions of the people
must be the basic thing. Everyone knows about the poor conditions that
existed in the rural areas--lack of water, the presence of germs and
bacteria due to lack of hygienic measures and material resources. We
revolutionaries are not to blame for the existence of 300,000 shacks. One
of these days the imperialists will say that the revolution has meant about
300,000 shacks in the country. Our problem is to wipe them out. We have not
eradicated all of the 300,000 shacks which we inherited from the
imperialists, but we have done away with many. We have built many new
towns, but we are not magicians. Only man's work and technology will wipe
out poverty, unhygienic conditions.

This is not a matter of two or three years but of 15, 20, 25, or 30 years.
We do not know how many. However, we will eradicate these evils. There is
no doubt about it. The revolution is aiming at the elimination of these
evila. The revolution is working hard on the prevention of disease and to
provide medical care. This effort logically win the good will of honest and
humane men. This effort will not win over the selfish. This effort must win
over honorable men and women. (Applause) You must know that among other
things that almost 50 percent of first year medical students are women. The
phenomenon of the incorporation of women into the study of medicine is
being observed. The problem of the country--yours and ours--is not one of
noting what has been accomplished.

We could mention figures which you already know--comparative data
concerning the number of beds in the past and the number of beds that we
have now, polio incidence rates, living conditions in hospitals,
nutritional conditions, and so forth. We could mention a long list of data,
but that is not important. The important thing is what we have to do. We
are not all satisfied with what we have done, because in the future it
seems to us that we can do 10, 20 times more than now if we create the
conditions to do these things.

For that reason this congress has value; it marks an important moment in
the life of our country, a series of positive achievements. Among the most
important points is the extraordinary scientific interest being aroused
among you, the great scientific interest, the great number of works which
have been presented, besides the spirit of confraternity and the
dissemination of knowledge among doctors, what you have learned and will
learn as a result of this congress, the interest, and the spirit of
improvement that has been aroused among you. This is very promising for our
country. This is a magnificent point of departure.

Indisputably, results will be visible. The fact that this spirit has been
awakened among you is very important. We have seen it in our comrades of
the rebel army. We have noted a tremendous difference in what they have
learned and in the interest they have to study between the comrades of the
rebel army and those of today. This is incredible. There is hardly a single
person who does not want to improve himself. WE have seen the results from
the military technique point of view. Many of them were guerrillas and now
they are military technicians. Thus we have a group of leaders and a group
of technicians studying weapons. When the spirit takes hold, the results
will be fantastic. This same spirit is seen in you. It will have fantastic
results go.

This spirit is seen in the university and preuniversity students. The level
of studies of our young people who have received scholarships at
preuniversity level has reached unprecedented heights in our country. We
have seen students in the Institute of Basic Science studying at two
o'clock in the morning. At that time in the morning the lights of the
Institute of Basic Sciences are burning. This level will reach even bigger
heights. A spirit of study is developing, a really extraordinary thing
among the youth. This is very promising for our country.

This spirit of study, of improvement among you, has been evident in the
congress. There will not be a single doctor or stomatologist who will want
to lag behind. First, there are the new study courses. The programs have
been made more intensive. More time is being devoted to study. Conditions
are being created in teaching hospitals, at hospital centers, in such a way
that no doctor will want to lag behind. As the old rebel says: "I want to
study because I do not want to lag behind."

This is a feeling of honor, of self-esteem in the human being, when he sees
that everyone is advancing, progressing. The basic factor rests on study.
Why do we have so much faith in the future despite our present
difficulties? Because we are in close contact with the mass of young people
and we know we are creating conditions for a great economic development in
the future, a great technical development, a great scientific development.
Study is the foundation. You know by personal experience that without study
you would not be where you are today; you could not hold the positions you

In this country, for many years, we will have to do without many things.
For many years no Cadillac will be imported. But we know that doctors need
transportation. And the stomologists need it too. For a good number of
years we will do without many things, but we are creating extraordinary
conditions for the future, by the only means, through work, technology, and
science which mean progress for humanity. Either that or magic. Whoever
believes in magic can find a substitute for technology and science to
create material goods. Work, technology, and science, accompanied, of
course, by adequate organization will provide us with these means.

This congress has proven that well-organized things turn out well.
Everything came off as planned. This congress has marked an upswing in the
spirit of study and self-improvement among you. The congress has many
important aspects, but in our opinion that is one of the most important
because the rest will come later. We cannot be satisfied with what has been
done; we have to fill a lot of gaps. We have a spirit of study, a spirit of
emulation, so that you can develop your possibilities to the maximum. At
the same time we have a magnificent program for training students and a
campaign to obtain students. Concerning this campaign we have a weak point.
We have staged a campaign in favor of medicine but we have not staged a
campaign for the study of stomatology. (Applause)

I have joked about this issue tonight. I know that there is a sort of
sensitivity among the stomatologists and it is justified. There has been
some forgetfulness. In a certain sense there has been under estimation of
the importance of their work. Often jokingly we have said that if we do not
concern ourselves with these things in a few years we are going to have
lots of meat, all sorts of supplies, but not molars. We have said that we
must show the interest that we have shown not only in the encouragement of
medical students but also of students of stomatology, pharmacy, and so

This is a proportional question. As a result we find very few students who
say they want to study stomatology. We must start a campaign among students
in preuniversity centers to show them the importance of that branch of
study. In this field we have found a high technical level (several words
indistinct) and we must not forget it. We must give the same support to it
that we give to the medical school.

In this respect, the stomatologists are right. We must pay attention to
this deficiency. However, to meet all these conditions (we must look at
education efforts of the past?) Among other things, we have been able to
discover with this revolution the situation of public schools, high
schools, preuniversity centers and universities. It was a real disaster. I
could repeat here all I said about the decent man. He would examine how our
public schools were--the level of instruction at our secondary and higher
educational institutions. They were a shame.

Here are some examples. For example, we have called people to the teaching
profession. We have taken an extraordinary interest in the training of
teachers because we are convinced that we must start at the roots, the
basis for the formation of the future men of our country, of the Cubans of
the future, who must be better than the Cubans of yesterday. We discovered,
upon calling people to attend a teacher school, that out of 5,000 young
people who had a sixth grade education, 46 percent could only do fourth
grade work. Our public schools were in disastrous condition. Here we are
not considering that in rural areas illiteracy was rampant.

Right now we have 10,000 peasant girls from the Oriente mountains studying
here. I have seen their grades and their tests. We found so many in the
first grade, so many in the second grade, and so many in the third grade, a
few in the fourth grade, even fewer in the fifth and sixth grades. We can
see that in three years since the teachers were sent to the mountains,
thousands of students are studying in the third grade, a few in the fourth
grade, fewer in the fifth and even fewer in the sixth. Not considering the
preschool children and the fact that our population amounted to more than
500,000, those who had some schooling had the worst education. We know that
in many places there were no school buildings or materials; we know these

Now, how are things going to be changed? One question we could ask any
counterrevolution is: "How were things going to be improved in the country
if things remained the way they were? We not only had 400,000 or 500,000
unemployed persons; we had 1 million illiterates, more than 500,000
children without schooling, and so forth. It was a disgrace. But the fact
is that now when we send those students in the sixth grade to the secondary
school, we find them deficient. When we send them from the secondary school
to preuniversity courses, we discover a low level of instruction in
secondary schools. When the students go from preuniversity centers to the
university, we find they are very, very deficient. Then, when they study
university subjects, we find hundreds that are discouraged in some of the
university schools.

Of course the answer is not to fail all of them; we must straighten them
out and lengthen study periods, because they are our legacy. Our country
must be seriously concerned with the training of teachers and with the
operation of our small public schools.

The first campaign to obtain teachers to be trained by completely new
methods will start to show results in two years. Now from 5,000 to 6,000
youths are entering the teaching profession every year. In 10 years we will
have thousands of new teachers produced by new methods, with a new
mentality. It was extremely difficult to get teachers to teach in the
mountains. We had to call students voluntarily (as heard). It is this type
of teacher that forms the brigades teaching in the mountains. We inherited
this low level of education. All this is being corrected.

The level of primary, secondary, and preuniversity studies is being
improved, and we will continue to struggle in this direction. Some day our
country will reap the fruits of all this effort. Now we are reaping the
fruits from the past, but some day we will reap the fruits of what we are
going for the country and the people.

The enemies of our revolution say that the revolution is cruel, that
socialism is cruel because it annihilates the individual, because the state
suffocates him. This is one of the biggest lies of the reactionaries. And
what about the individual who died without medical care, the individual who
had to sleep on the floor in a hospital, and the individual who went to bed
without eating, lonely in the midst of society, the individual who never
learned to write. Who suffocated him? Who abandoned him? The bourgeois
state, the capitalist state. The proletarian state does not abandon the
individual to his fate. It wants to take the doctor to the sick; it wants
to take education to all citizens without exception. The capitalists speak
of their free system and of equal opportunities. What opportunity can a
peasant have who never saw a school, a teacher? What chance does he have to
become a scientist, a technician, an artist, or what have you? What
opportunity does he have? What opportunity did the 1 million illiterates

That state gave no one a chance. However, this state gives a chance event
to the most humble child, the poorest child, the child who lives in the
most remote corner of the country. For that reason, it is training
teachers; it is sending out vanguard teacher brigades; it is granting
100,111 scholarships. To receive one of these scholarships it is not
necessary to be a sergeant, a politician, or to sell a vote. The student
does not have to be indebted to anyone. All he has to do is be needy and
have a desire to learn. Here he has everything--clothing, food, books,
hygienic living conditions, and teachers. He is given preferential
treatment by the state.

It is enough that a student be needy, and a child who has been abandoned by
his parents does not need charity (applause) because he can go to nursery
schools. There he gets education not like dirt but like a human being,
along with the rest of the children. These conditions are a thousand times
better than in the past, because the proletarian state is concerned with a
man and works for man. The proletarian state is man's most concrete
guarantee. That is what interest us--deeds, not words.

Of course, to do all this we have had to fight hard. Because we do all
these things, they want to destroy our revolution, our country. This
afternoon we were passing along one of those avenues where thousands of
young students live, healthy and full of enthusiasm. And in those students
we saw the vigor of youth and we asked ourselves: "What do the imperialists
plan to do?" We were thinking of those 10,000 peasant girls being attended
to by 300 students from the technological institute--girls of 15 to 16
years who run a house of 40 to 50 peasant girls. We thought of all these
things, and we remembered the dispatches that we read in which we saw that
the enemy is brandishing his sword constantly, and we asked ourselves:
"What does the enemy plan to do?"

While they talk about the Alliance for Progress and all their trash they
have not been able to end illiteracy in any Latin American country.
(Applause) They have not been able to eliminate illiteracy or polo in a
single Latin American country. They have not been able and will never be
able to do a thing, because to fight illiteracy they would have to mobilize
100,000 young people to teach in places governed by such reactionary
oligarchies as those of Somoza, Stroessner, Guido, and Betancourt, the
killer of students. (Applause) Betancourt, that betrayer who is presented
as the ideal ruler, could mobilize 100,000 students only if he gave them
permission to organize a demonstration against him.

Only a revolution whose greatness, heroism, and historical significance are
understood by the youth can wage that battle. We asked ourselves: "What is
the criminal imperialists trying to do? Are they trying to crush all this,
destroy all this, liquidate this?" They want the country to return to vice,
gambling, politicking, and prostitution so that instead of 100,000 peasants
learning different things in our capital there will be thousands of peasant
girls practicing prostitution. What do the imperialists want to do and what
right to they have to try to destroy the word of a nation whose sole crime
is wanting to progress, to advance, and to look after the happiness for her

I want to tell you these things, Comrades, because I did not come here to
make a political speech. I did not come here to wage propaganda. I came
here to talk to you of what I feel, sincerely, and to say these truths at
this scientific congress, because this country, which the imperialists want
to depict as a stifled country, an oppressed nation, is the country that
has its frontiers open to everybody, to any doctor from any country. It is
a real shame and an admission of impotence on the part of the U.S.
Government that it did not permit any American doctors to come here
(Applause). Here we would have received all U.S. doctors who wanted to come
in a scientific spirit. If they organized a congress and invited Cuban
doctors, Cuban doctors would proudly go to that congress. (Applause)

We have to remember these things. We must bear these things in mind to know
how to be worthy sons of this country at this juncture of history. In our
daily tasks we must always remember these things. This is our heroic
battle, our glorious battle of just men, of decent men, of men who honor
history and the dignity of their country and face up to obstacles and
enemies, regardless of how powerful they are.

Comrades, you have worked hard for a week in the field of science. As this
congress ends, we want to say with great satisfaction that it has
evidenced, among other things, something that we must emphasize--the esteem
felt by the people for the public health workers. The people appreciate and
have shown interest in attending--the food workers, transport workers,
artists, and newspapermen, and everyone who has had an opportunity to serve
you and to see the brilliance and success of this congress. This shows how
the people, who get numerous benefits from you, appreciate your efforts. I
feel sure that this recognition is important to you.

This congress must not end here. You must go on working, publishing works.
A series of gaps must be filled. Publications must be improved. We must
solve the problem of books, (applause) both those that must be printed and
those that must be imported, and we must solve the problem of the
periodicals. We must overcome the bureaucratic obstacles which hamper these
things. (Applause) The nation is ready to make an effort to contribute to
the improvement of doctors and stomatologists and all our public health
workers so that you will not be isolated from the world. You must be in
contact with the world, in contact with science, and you must know the
latest advances. Science is universal, and we must learn from the world,
just as we must always be ready to teach whatever we may learn. We have
discussed these things with the comrades who have to do with these things.

We must continue working. Do not settle for just words. I know that some
efforts have been made in this direction. Some magazines and books are
coming. Steps are being taken to satisfy fully the needs we have in the
printing of books and our need for imported books and magazines. We must
disseminate experience and knowledge as much as we can. And we must support
by all means this feeling of yours, this spirit of yours, this wish of
yours for self-improvement.

I am sure that this spirit is shared by other technicians, because our
country needs technicians in agronomy and it needs technicians in great
quantities in industry. We must support this desire for self-improvement on
the part of our technicians. We must show them the nation's appreciation
for their efforts. I believe that this congress will contribute greatly to
that end, that our country will be proud of its technicians, proud of you,
and that you will not want to lag behind. You will want public health to
progress more and more in our country. You will want to set the example, be
the model, and this will be cause for honor and satisfaction for all of
you. Comrades: Fatherland or death; we will win.