Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana Reloj Nacional Network in Spanish 1200 GMT 2 July 1963--F

(Report on Fidel Castro speech at the assembly of members of the party and
vanguard workers of the construction sector)

(Text) In his speech to the assembly of party members and exemplary workers
of the construction sector, Fidel said: "I do not want you to thing that
these criticisms are only made about the construction workers because they
lay fewer bricks or because they are absent from work. Criticisms have been
made here for a long time on various levels and on factors that have to do
with construction. It is necessary to organize everything: supplies, the
ministry, and work methods and systems of all worker. It is clear that if
we do not organize the principal force, the workers, and organize an
efficient organization with norms, then it would be of no use to resolve
the problems of supply and administration, and that is why we are
discussing these points."

Castro then declared: "There was a time, months ago, when the number of
construction workers was such that we truly thought that if work were
really performed there would be too many. At that time we were trying to
see how we would resolve the problem of surplus workers so that nobody
would be unemployed. One of the solutions was that of vacations, which
meant that a number of workers were replacing others who were resting.
However this is no longer the principal solution because a study was made
on possibilities of maximum construction, investments were increased, and
as a result only in some isolated places do we have a problem of surplus

"However in spite of the fact that that problem no longer exists, and
because of a number of reasons having to do with organization, it continues
to be advantageous to pay a basic salary on one hand and vacations on the
other. In this first point there is a matter of principle. We must abide by
the principle that rest is necessary. If that principle is ignored we would
be committing an error, and we have been committing that error. Now let us
ask ourselves how we fall into that error. It stems from the era of
unemployment, the era of the contractor, and from the era when the workers
did not have their work assured. Because of that they worked three months
and then rested for four. It was not possible to establish any system of
vacations among the construction workers, but from the moment that
construction workers had work assured for the entire year, it could be
done, and there already exists a basis for a discussion of rest periods.

"It is supposed that man has to replenish his energies and in truth
although it might appear that there is no rest today, there really is. What
is it called? Absenteeism! Absenteeism, that is the word. It is not that
you do not rest in the construction sector. What happens is that since you
do not have a regular rest period, you have an irregular rest period, and
in many cases it is one you set on your own account, on a day you very well
feel like it.

"Now I am going to answer the arguments of the comrade who spoke with
concern about income, and I am going to show him how an ever greater income
can be had in spite of the fact that work and rest periods are paid
separately. What we should ask ourselves is: How many days are we resting?
Is is good for the economy to have people rest on the days they feel like
it? We must also ask ourselves if that irregular rest is good for our
health, is it convenient for the family, or is it convenient for anybody?
Rest that is not scheduled systematically takes the form of absenteeism."

Fidel said: "Very well, now we must also organize work from the ministry's
point of view, from the point of view of construction projects, and
planning and progress of projects. It is also necessary to have a minimum
margin of time to transfer personnel from one project to another. Now I am
going to explain to you--and we can stand in front of any mass of
construction workers because we can present a cluster of benefits which the
revolution has given the construction sector, and advantages that the
revolution has granted the construction sector."

The Prime Minister then emphasized that one of the most tragic problems of
the construction workers was that of permanent unemployment and job
insecurity. "By an initiative of the government, in a meeting which
possibly all of you remember because it took place in the public work shops
on Via Blanca, I made the proposal that the field be closed and that no
more personnel be allowed to enter the construction sector." Fidel
continued explaining: "At that moment we were thinking about stopping the
competition by new workers in a sector where insecurity and permanent
unemployment would be increased. Today we also have other problems because
economic and social problems are very complex and some have a bearing on
others. We have the problem of preventing people from leaving other work to
come to work in construction. It is well to remember that there are other
forms of work which are as hard, or in some cases harder, than construction
work, with poorer salaries. The result may be that nobody will want to cut
cane, that nobody will want to work eight hours straddling a row chopping
weeds and certain other agricultural labor, and may prefer to work as a
painter, or a plasterer, or a construction laborer, although we know that
the work of a construction laborer is hard."

Fidel added: "Unquestionably in a choice between hard work and hard work,
the choice will be for the better paid hard work. The question then is: Who
is going to plant and who is going to till the fields? Who is going to
produce the foods that we all need? I made a criticism one day, and I
believe it was an apt criticism, against the demagogic gentleman whom I
called an anarchist or made anarchist because in truth he was nothing else.
One day for political reasons, in those days when there were people who
adopted measures for purely demogogic reasons, unthinkingly and without
consulting anybody, he decided on a measure, that of the equalization of
salaries of the construction workers of the interior with those of the
capital, without taking into account the enormous repercussion this would
have in agriculture, causing a flow of labor from agriculture to
construction. This took place during the days when the revolution had begun
a series of projects as one of the many measures to put an end to
unemployment while agriculture was developing.

"Agriculture then began attaining a greater development and problems of
labor shortages began to show up, but even in those days when we were
trying to create employment, the most intelligent thing to do was not the
equalization of these salaries, but rather to provide employment. That was
the immediate need and would not have effected agricultural production. One
of the problems which arose in the construction sector after that measure
proposed by us--that the field be closed in order that permanent employment
be insured for the construction workers--was the interpretation given to
the measure. How did the incompetent leaders of the construction sector of
those days interpret the measure? In a demagogic manner, in an
irresponsible manner, a fault which is not restricted to the incompetent
union leaders of those days, but a fault of the administration and the
government itself.

"How did they interpret this measure taken with the sole purpose of giving
security to the workers? They interpreted it in a manner that closed a
filed and whether a worker did anything or not he had to remain at the
project all day even if there was no shop for him to work at. The struggle
by the union was not for the purpose of pressuring the administration so
that the worker could go from one project to the other with a minimum of
lost time and at the disposal of the administration so that money would not
be wasted. A measure that was passed for the benefit of the workers was
ill-interpreted and ill-applied and caused harm to the workers and caused
harm to the economy of the country."

Fidel Castro said that low production in the construction sector is not the
fault of the workers alone. The fault is also that of the administration
and supplies, but it is also the fault of the workers. He added that
various factors: difficulties in supplies, shortcomings in administrative
organization, and lack discipline in work all joined together to bring it
about. He added: "There was a lack of discipline, there was the lack of
motivations (resortes) through which previously capitalism made the workers
product, and they must be replaced during transition from capitalism to
socialism by other motivations not based of course on the exploitation of
classes, but based on technology, organization, norms, discipline, and a
number of substitutes without a decrease in production."

Fidel pointed out that a worker lays 14 meters of bricks under the
capitalists, under the straw boss, under the treat of being fired, under
the threat that when the project was finished he would not be given work
elsewhere, and under the threat of hunger. Today all those threats have
disappeared. All those worries have disappeared and were not replaced by
other motivations. The result is that productivity has begun to decrease.
"Why should I produce 14 meters when I can produce 10 and there are no
problems, if I can produce 6 and there are no problems, and I can produce 4
and there are no problems? I can even produce as low as 2 and there are no
problems," said Fidel Castro.

He then asked: "Is that how proletarian strength can be interpreted? Is
that the way a revolution can be accomplished? That is a mistake. Is that
the way the life of a people can be changed? Is that the way the progress
of a country can be guaranteed? Is that the way the future of the nation
can be guaranteed? No. That is not the way. That is a mistake, an erroneous
interpretation. That is subjectivism, it is an illusion (idealism) to
believe that this is socialism and that this is progress and that this is
going to guarantee the development of the country.

"We cannot forget that we were born under capitalism. We cannot forget that
we are in a transitional phase and that while it is true that there are
conscientious workers from whom we are organizing the political vanguard,
there are also many people who have not the slightest notion of what social
consciousness is, what political consciousness is, or what revolutionary
consciousness is. This does not mean that it is their fault but it is the
fault of conditions, lack of education, lack of schooling, lack of
discipline, the lack of everything."

In another part of his speech Fidel Castro said that being born and reared
under capitalist conditions, men become selfish, think only of trying
desperately to resolve their immediate problems, not believing in the
conscientious man. "You know that the hero of labor may be found in any
work center and also the loafer. What is the result if we do not properly
organize work, if we do not organize correctly? The hero is going to be
working for the loafer. If exploitation of classes has disappeared, if the
exploitation of the worker by capitalism has disappeared, then the
exploitation of the hero of labor by the loafer, the parasite, by one who
does absolutely noting, must also disappear. If we believe that everybody
has an extraordinary consciousness, that everybody is going to behave well
because of this supposed consciousness, and that everything is going to
progress well, what do we do? We fall into the error of idealism, an
incorrect evaluation of reality. We fall simply into error. Many things
have been done from that point of view forgetting that we must organize and
that man must be formed. In the transition phase from capitalism to
socialism to communism, certain measures of organization and certain
motivations are indispensable for the maintenance of production, so that
production will increase, so that consciousness and discipline may be
created. In this transition phase, in which we have abolished the
capitalist methods, we must replace those capitalist methods by socialist
production methods."

Fidel Castro added that not only in construction but everywhere we must
apply the principle of whoever does not work does not eat. "Is our society
merciless with the invalid who cannot work, with children, with the sick,
with the aged, with the pregnant woman?

"No. What has the revolution done? It has precisely guaranteed all those
who previously lived in a state of neglect, who lived criminally and
mercilessly forgotten, cast out from society and its way of live when they
did not have strength, when they were ill, when they were invalided. It has
given protection to women in a greater degree than ever before in our
country. Now with respect to all this, I ask a question? how can we protect
all those who really need it if the ones who are able to work do not work,
if those who can produce do not produce? The aged will get less, the
children will get less, the sick will get less, pregnant women will get
less. The revolution has been establishing a number of measures favoring
the aged, the children, the sick, the pregnant women protected by maternity
laws regardless of their work centers. The revolution has granted
scholarships, and there are scores of thousands of children in schools,
nearly 100,000 young people are studying. They are not children of the
bourgeois but children of workers, children of proletarians, with all
expenses paid by the state.

"These are the social categories to whom society has to guarantee better
living conditions because they have already worked and cannot continue
working intermittently or permanently, or because they will be workers of
the future. However one thing that cannot be justified is the loafer who
wants to live parasitically off those who make an effort and who truly
work, because from the time we come into the world we have a basic duty,
because life itself cannot be sustained except on the basis of certain
material goods. These materials cannot be obtained except by work and one
cannot expect to live without acquiring those elementary prerequisites.
They must be acquired by work and not by the work of others, but rather by
the work of each and every one."

He added that what had happened is that many governments representing
social exploiting classes passed exploitating laws and laws which promoted
parasitism and loafers. On the other hand, the revolution, the proletarian
state, has to pass laws protecting the invalid, the aged, the children, the
sick, the worker, and to make living conditions impossible for the loafer
and the parasite. Fidel said: "We must not be confused, those are the
objectives we have before us and we try to guarantee the construction
worker security in life, that is the reason for this measure. This gain
must be maintained but in a manner useful for the country and for the
workers, and not prejudicial to the workers and harmful to the economy of
the country.