Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana Domestic Radio and Television Services in Spanish 0020 GMT 9 Dec 68 F/C

[Speech by Cuban Premier Fidel Castro at Oriente University graduation
ceremonies in Santiago de Cuba--live]

[Text] Comrade professors of Oriente University, comrade graduates, comrade
students: This afternoon, while we waited, that is to say, while we were
approaching Santiago de Cuba to attend this ceremony, we noted that it was
cloudy, that there were some showers, and then it began to rain heavily
afterward. [crowd noise] We were thinking that as on other occasions, this
year we were going to have a wet ceremony. Comrade Guillermo was saying,
just as we were passing by the very famous Charco Mono Dam [crowd laughter,
Castro chuckles], that the dam [reservoir] was completely dry even after
spring and autumn had passed, and Comrade Guillermo also told me that the
water from the Gilbert Dam, which is not a little puddle, was being
supplied to Charco Mono. But this is an area where it rained quite little
this year and last.

This is noteworthy is a sense, because in general, in the rest of the
island, it has rained a great deal since May. Agricultural work has been
very hard under torrential rains everywhere except in some places in
Oriente Province. In general, it was dry in Oriente Province for the second
season, and yet in the Cauto area it rained in some places as it had not
rained in many years. But the drought has been persistent, especially in
this southern area and in some parts of Oriente Province, and this little
puddle of Charco Mono had never been as dry and so Guillermo said: For 2
years it has not rained and today we are going to have a shower.

We were concerned about you and quite possibly a few of you were soaked
[crowd shouts, laughter] because you were marching, or almost all of you as
you say. [crowd shouts] But despite all, Comrade Guillermo was happy and he
said: This is a good omen, this is a good omen [Castro chuckles] that it
should rain in December in this area of Santiago de Cuba, and perhaps it
means that after 2 years of drought we will have a better year of rainfall
in 1969.

However, we must realize that a dry year has been taken into account for
the 10-million-ton sugar harvest. We are not counting on a rainy year. If
the year is rainy [crowd shouts, Castro chuckles] then we will not be able
to grind all the sugarcane no matter what. But the big jobs on the dams,
reservoirs, extremely high-speed well-drilling, and the cultivation and
fertilization of sown lands, have all been done taking into account the
possibility of a dry year.

But in short, it rained, you got wet, unfortunately we did not get a chance
to get wet also [crowd laughter] and the ceremony is taking place without
too much heat, without too much cold, unless it is the heat generated by
the enthusiasm of the Santiago youths and the heated words of the comrade
who spoke in the name of all of you.

We are living in a period of ever-increasing hard work. It is not a period
which is principally of words. At the outset of the revolution there were
many words and little work. Lately in the revolution, there are
decreasingly less words and increasingly more work. It does not mean that
the words are not needed. Perhaps at the outset of the revolution words
helped to enlighten us. It is true that as revolutionaries we began to be,
first of all, theoretical revolutionaries, verbal revolutionaries, and
abstract revolutionaries.

If each one of us were to analyze how much we knew about revolution 12, 10,
8 years ago, we would begin to see how we have been acquiring a real notion
of what a revolution is all about and how in the first stages of a
revolution it is a time for abstract ideas, for theory, for certain
concepts which still have not undergone the test of reality.

And yet, the people, in the first phase of their revolution, filled with
enthusiasm and fervor, were still far from being a truly revolutionary
people. But not the people of today, the people who incessantly mobilize,
dedicated to their work, dedicated to their studies, dedicated to the
construction of the state. A people who, in the Province of Oriente alone,
yesterday and today mobilized more than 70,000 persons. You could see on
the highways the endless lines of men and women returning from their jobs
with obvious optimism and great confidence, realizing the importance of the
work being done, realizing the results which are beginning to be seen. It
is without doubt in this Province of Oriente, a province which, as we told
Comrade Guillermo, is a virgin province, which has the advantage of being a
virgin province as well as the disadvantage of having always been one of
the most forgotten and forsaken provinces or regions in the nation;
therefore, one of the most underdeveloped regions of the country.

But the effort made by the inhabitants of this region was a good one
throughout the history of the country, without any risk of regionalism,
that ridiculous mania which on some occasions many people display. It is a
ridiculous sentiment which has sometimes been incited, [but] has the least
danger of rising in this country because the revolution itself has swept
away those parochial, narrow, and absurd ideas. That means the
participation of this region was considerable in the process of a history
we all know.

At the same time that this region became poor, it became the most
economically backward of the country, the most ignorant, the most
underdeveloped, so that even communications were lacking here.

For example, consider that in the Sierra Maestra, without counting Baracoa
and the second front, there were some 300,000 persons, and that immense
community of 300,000 persons had a very high percentage of illiterates. It
did not have the use of a single road. I repeat 300,000 persons without a
single road, without a single hospital; 300,000 persons, mothers, children,
and workers who did not have a single doctor. It really does seem absurd.
How could that be called a nation, a people, a human society? If there were
a few schools they were on the edges of the Sierra Maestra. The situation
was similar in Baracoa, in Mayari Arriba, in Realengo 18, and in all those
innumerable localities of the Oriente mountains, where an estimated 1
million persons lived, without a road, without a doctor, without one

Logically there was helplessness, backwardness, and poverty, because all
this is due naturally to the economic underdevelopment of the country.
Nevertheless, we have in this province one-third of the population of Cuba.
In this province we have the greatest mineral wealth of this country; we
have extensive areas of magnificent earth, lands which vary from the soil
and dwarf pine of the region of Yateras and (Mias)--where grapes can grow,
let us say--to regions like those near Guantanamo where sugarcane sometimes
yields up to 15 and 16 percent sugar--enormous areas crossed by many rivers
like the Cauto basin, where, for example, there is enough land to supply
the entire country with rice.

More than 100,000 caballerias of mountain land were destroyed by erosion,
not without forest cover, where there is a possibility of growing enormous
wealth in wood, with so much need and use for it.

There are also the greatest reserves of nickel in the world, and an
enormous potential for water, since practically all the lowlands can be
irrigated by collecting the river water that comes down from the mountains.
Further, we have the always-enthusiastic population of this province,
always fervently revolutionary and patriotic in its history, of almost 3
million persons.

The purpose for this brief review of the characteristics of this province
is to emphasize the great meaning of education, not only for the entire
country, but particularly for Oriente Province, the importance of the
largest graduating class ever to come out of this university, the
importance this has and the meaning of education, universities,
preuniversities, technological schools, secondary schools, and the
importance it has for our country, within our country, for this province,
and the development which education must have.

For these reasons are not only bound to the development of this province
and the revolution, but are also related to the most transcendental
problems of the present world. It is possible that if we can grasp the true
dimension of this, it could contribute to having every young person and
adult in this country read a book; it could make us realize the meaning and
importance of books and study.

With regard to the graduation of hundreds of students today, it is well to
see how Oriente University progressed in this respect. In 1947-48 there
were 147 entrants. In 1949, 384. There were no graduates yet. In 1951-52,
542 were initially enrolled. The first graduates numbered eight in '52, 77
in '53, 83 in '54, 50 in '56, that is 50... I am going to read the last
year, '56-'57, right? In '57: 83. In '58 there is no record of anyone
graduating here. In '59, 40. In '60, there was already an initial
matriculation of 239, no the initial matriculation was 1,906 and 198

And so it has grown successively to the present year in which the initial
matriculation was 5,707 students and 457 graduates. Today we laugh that
eight graduated one year and some day we will laugh that 457 graduated one

We are almost amazed that 5,707 students were matriculated and in the
future we will be shocked at this figure. In the future there will be tens
and tens of thousands of students matriculated in this province until the
day comes when practically the whole new population will be taking higher
education courses. This will be a special phenomenon which, as a result,
will mark the end of the universities.

You, the students, the workers, have heard in some political lectures about
dialetics, about development, about institutions, and about processes, and
this is a good dialectical example: The development of the universities
leads to the disappearance of the universities. In other words, the maximum
development of the institution itself will lead to its own disappearance.
This is not a play on words. This is not a joke. This is a fact and it has
its explanation and we will talk a little about this later.

But I think that the figures give us some idea of the progress. They make
us laugh, almost uproariously, about the year when eight students graduated
and they warn us that some day we will laugh even more about the year of
the ones who graduated today. Well, we will not laugh at the graduates but
at the number of graduates. [Castro chuckles, crowd laughs] so this is but
a small step forward. We have advanced a millimeter.

The tool number of students--here I have the initial matriculations--in
Oriente University is now 3,930, of which 2,829 are scholarship holders and
1,101 are boarding students. This also indicates a little progress: the
possibility that almost 3,000 Oriente Province youths, in their own
province, can attend this university on scholarships. it is a small step
forward when compared to periods when there were no scholarship holders,
when a youth from this province had to go through nobody knows how many
difficulties before he could attend the university. It was something
available to only a minority of privileged families, who could just as well
have sent their son to this university, or to Havana University, or to the
United States, or to Europe. But this is also a small step forward.

This is the situation in Oriente University and here is the information on
those who graduated: mechanical engineering, 11; electrical engineering,
18; chemical engineering, 19; geology, 12; medicine, 96; stomatologists,
20; master's in chemistry, six; master's in economics, 62; public
accountant, 11. Then comes workers and peasants education, the various
sectional groups, in short, 11 more mechanical engineers, 18 electrical
engineers, 19 chemical engineers, in short, we begin to see that we really
have few. Now we are not so amazed and we begin to see that they are really
few. A higher number of physicians--on the matter of medicine, we made a
special effort some years ago since it was necessary to preserve the
medical organization in light of the exodus of physicians promoted by
imperialism, which wanted to leave this nation without any doctors. But
really this skirmish--around the revolution all these struggles are
something like a skirmish--has been won by the revolution because we are
now graduating almost 1,000 physicians a year and we are now beginning to
have enrollment in specialties by recent graduates, and in the future rural
medicine will have not only a general practitioner but specialists as well.
A sizable number of graduates now are specializing, and of course this is
also a small step forward, another small step forward. If you like, we can
call it a little greater advance.

This is great importance in the fact that now in the mountains, in those
communities in the Sierra Maestra of 300,000 families, persons, without a
doctor, those communities of almost a million persons in the mountains and
on the plains without a doctor, not only will have dozens of hospitals and
doctors, but also hospitals with doctors and services in the various

No longer will these be general practitioners but specialists, and this,
logically, who compared to zero, is progress in view of its significance.
It is also a battle won and a great satisfaction for the revolution to be
able to say that it is graduating 1,000 doctors a year, doctors who no
longer will work in private practice or set up a hole-in-the-wall office.
In other words, society is giving them different possibilities, newer
possibilities than those the past offered the doctor, which was
unemployment, the search for a little medical job in some township, that
place where they used to go--they called it, I cannot remember exactly, the
medical assistance house (case de socorro)--or they could make way for
themselves with a thousand difficulties by adding to the great
concentration of doctors which existed, for example, in Havana.

But now, the young men who graduated as doctors can choose a specialty with
the possibility of becoming specialists. They know where their work is and,
in short, this permits a distribution of doctors according to the needs of
the population and this means a quantitatively and qualitatively superior
solution to our people's medical care problems. And that criminal attempt
to deprive the nation of doctors, an imperialist device, has failed.

Now we will have students with increasingly better training and professors
with greater experience. And of course, those who matriculate in the years
to come must have higher basic training.

In some branches of science and technology we made better progress than in
others, and the needs in the industrial, mechanical and electrical
engineering, and chemistry fields, in a word, in all those specialties are
great. We are very far from satisfying them or being able to satisfy them
in these (?5) years.

With regard to general instruction, we have here some data to throw light
on the prospects for the universities. In this province we have, without
counting the mountain area, 424,000 pupils in primary grades. There are
110,000 more in the mountains, making a total of 532,377 primary grade
pupils, not counting thousands who are studying outside the province, in
the Primero de Mayo school and others, for a total of almost 550,000
primary pupils in Oriente Province. This means a little more than half a
million, and possibly some who are missing because of poor communications
and deficiencies in our educational media or resources and did not enroll
at the course opening. So the province has between 550,000 and 600,000
children and young persons in grade school.

It is known that the revolution proposes to make instruction compulsory for
all children and youngsters up to the preuniversity level. Of course, it is
vital for the country. It is not anyone's willfulness but an imperious need
for our people. This is a measure which will be discussed with all the
workers of the country, so that the people grasp, understand, and see quite
clearly the importance of that policy in education.

Thus we have in the primary grades about 550,000 pupils; in secondary
schools we have 36,712; in preuniversity 2,471. It is difficult to accept
that in technological schools there are only 5,311; worker-peasant
education, 100,000. But confining it to secondary, preuniversity, and
technological we have slightly more than 40,000 on the intermediate level.
Now, 40,000, a bit more. This is nothing. A simple projection of the
enormous number in the primary grades reveals that this province will have
not less than 200,000 students in secondary and higher schools. Of course
this means that we have to make great efforts; that the entire country will
have in secondary instruction alone, in intermediate schooling if you wish,
in 1975, about 800,000 students.

It cannot be conceived, it cannot be permitted--it would strike at the most
fundamental interests of our people--to have anyone who is not mentally
unable, the exceptional cases, leave school with only primary learning or
secondary learning, because we must say that if they were illiterate in
1959--could not read or write--in 1980 for example, in 11 years and 1 month
or less than a month, to be a graduate of only a junior high school will be
equivalent to illiteracy.

In the future society, which plans human communities, even more so in a
collectivity like ours which suffered the historical process of centuries;
of colonialism, of exploitation, and which piled up centuries of
backwardness, it raises a tremendous challenge, if we wish to play a
dignified role in the world, fill a decorous role in the world, be worthy
of a minimum respect in the world, of liberty and practically of existence.

Therefore, we must suppose that we will attain the aspiration of actually,
not just by law, studying up to preuniversity level, which we shall call
compulsory--and some day not have to call it compulsory because it is
something which springs forth so clearly and essentially from fact, to
establish an obligation as a need. Then when there are hundreds of
thousands on the intermediate levels there will also be hundreds of
thousands on the university level.

As all of society will have to study in the future--so that no one be
frightened we are speaking of the future society--we speak of primary
today, of secondary today, society will have to study always. Study, like
work, will be part of daily activity for all human beings and will no
longer be what work and study used to be, often a meaningless and
purposeless activity and, above all, fruitless, it will cease to be a
burden and will become an activity that every human being will carry our
every day.

And to the extent that physical work decreases as technological mastery
holds sway, the need for intellectual work, the need for studies, for
knowledge, for research, for making new progress, will become increasingly

Hence, in the future society, physical work per se will progressively
decrease and intellectual work will in turn increase. And the day will come
when society will have to engage intensively in sports because it is
impossible to conceive that human beings are all gradually going to become
simple intellectual workers and it will be necessary to exercise muscles
together with intelligence.

Logically, when we still have to chop tens of millions of arrobas of
sugarcane daily in this country as a requirement of the economy, when we
still have to chop 40 million or 50 million arrobas of sugarcane a day by
hand with a machete, it is idle to talk about [Castro chuckles] really
arduous physical activities and there is little room to talk about
intellectual activities.

But the day will come when society will even begin to miss physical labor
and other physical activities will have to supplant it. This is no dream,
no utopia. These are utterly perceptible facts and they involve a not too
distant future. In other words, these things will come to pass in a
relatively short time.

And I was saying that this phase will come in our people's development.
Intellectual work will develop more and more and studies will become a
general and constant activity of all society. A doctor or an engineer who
spends 5 years without opening a book would be left incredibly far behind
with regard to the volume of new discoveries, new techniques, and new
facts, which are the hallmark of this period of incredible revolution in
science and technology. Therefore, 5 years without getting information, 5
years without studying, would be equivalent to staying underdeveloped in
these fields.

The most eminent men, the most renowned because of their knowledge, are men
who have to dedicate part of their time everyday to studying. Not because
they are 15 years old, but even if they are 70 years old. The ideas,
concepts, therefore, must undergo changes, because often we are not able to
imagine how old concepts, old schemes, old habits, influence us.

And all those ideas must disappear. Will the universities disappear? Yes,
because some things that are not so important, like the universities,

Regarding the disappearance of the universities, what does this mean: When
the day comes that hundreds of thousands of youths will have obtained a
preuniversity education, graduates of the technological
institutes--recently, at the opening of a school, we said that we must in
the future, eliminate the word "preuniversity" and use technological
institute of science instead, to eliminate that somewhat artificial
division between one group of students and another.

And in these technological institutes of science the students will study
those subjects that will be necessary for later studies--agricultural,
industrial, and other technological institutes. When there are hundreds of
thousands, then all these youths with a technical knowledge will pass to
productive activities. Universities with hundreds of thousands of students
cannot be conceived (?within) the masses. This concept would prevent the
subsequent development of the whole mass, because society could not do
without that mass that already has acquired, after many years of studies,
professional training.

Practically every youth will turn to production with that acquired
training. A few very exceptional activities will require higher studies.
Some say, for example, what about the medical student? But the medical
school will be organized as a part of the hospitals. Those youths will
begin early to obtain simultaneously their basic studies, some practice,
some experience, some familiarization with their work, and some service.

Those training to be teachers will teach in the teachers training schools
while taking higher studies themselves. Need has forced us to this.
Baccalaureate graduates went to technological school to study agronomy,
where they followed set programs under professors, and then they took their
tests at the university. At present, we have students of architecture in
some of the agricultural outposts, where they study and work in connection
with physical planning. There are students of civil engineering in the
mountains of Pinar del Rio studying and taking part in planning and
organization of work there. The professors teach their classes there.

It is necessary to send the professor there because no one there has higher
learning. In the future, in each sugar central, in each industry, the
mining industry for example, or chemical, textile, or any other kind, in
each electrical industry, in each agricultural industry--when we speak of
agricultural industry we speak of an agriculture that will be highly
specialized and mechanized, with the rational and best use of the soil,
according to the needs to be satisfied and the physical
characteristics--the day will come when there will be contingents of men
with notable knowledge, when it will not be necessary for a professor of
the school of economy to go there to teach, because all the graduates of
the agricultural technological institute will be there, preceded by dozens
and dozens of youths who took higher studies and who, besides, will have
long experience.

In the future, therefore, practically every factory, every agricultural
zone, each hospital, each school, will be a university. And the graduates
of the intermediate levels will continue their higher studies, and the
present universities will (?cease). We are going to liquidate these
buildings. These institutions will no longer be the present universities.
They are no longer the same. In this sense, they will have disappeared,
and, instead, will operate centers of higher learning for postgraduate

So groups of doctors, well selected because of their exceptional
characteristics, will receive postgraduate courses in these centers that
today are called universities when all the productive activity of the
country becomes the day school, the perfect school for each of the members
of the collectivity.

Today a technological institute may be created around a large workshop; but
in the future, when that enormous mass reaches that level, wherever there
is a technological institute there will also be a school of labor next door
to the factory. Besides an electrical industry, beside the chemical
industry, beside the metallurgical industry, where the workers, with their
technological level and as workers there, will have time for work; certain
hours of the day, next door to the factory, they will receive some
theoretical or practical learning from qualified persons who also will be
part of the technical personnel of that industry.

This is how we conceive of the ultimate development of all this educational
process. This is also our concept in connection with intermediate levels of
learning. All this is related to the plan in which the youth in secondary
school will immediately begin to take part in some productive activity. In
the future, the secondary schools will be distributed throughout the
country. No longer will the schools go to the country, like today, for 45
days of school. The schools will be located in the country. Not the school
to the country, but the school in the country. [applause] [To be continued]