Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


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

[Speech by Premier Fidel Castro to graduates of Oriente University--live;
see page 0 1 of the 9 December DAILY REPORT for the first part of speech]

[Text] In this case, the work will be fundamentally pedagogic; but it will
not be unproductive work, because there are many activities that can be
carried out by the youths which are not hard work. Then the ideal
proclaimed by all eminent and advanced pedagogues will be established, in
the sense that in the formation of men, from the earliest age, productive
activities go hand in hand with educational activities.

Then, the matter of military education will also be part of the
indispensable formation of conditions in our country, and of technological
teaching. So men and women will receive, when they enter the technological
school, corresponding military training. There will no longer exists today,
a separation between students going to the military service and those going
to a center or learning. It will then be one and the same youth.

Of course, all this is possible only as the consequence of the development
of the revolution, of the disappearance of privileges, the disappearance of
classes, progressively. So this will be the consequence of our having only
one people, a real equality of rights among all citizens, a real equality
of opportunities in life, a real equality also in the obligations and
duties toward the whole society. It will also be the result of the wealth
that we are creating with incredible effort during these years, because I
can say that our people are really exerting some efforts of consideration,
some efforts that are really noteworthy.

So this gives us an idea of how we must work, not only in the field of
economic development, but also in the fields of education and social
development. Any well-made school--not like that little school over there
which arouses pity, that little lonely school, quite often only a hut,
without any sort of conditions, where a teacher must teach six grades,
where there is no playground, where there are not even the basic services,
where there is no possibility of providing lunch, food, where there is
practically nothing. [sentence as heard] We have conceived a type of grade
school that does not in any way resemble the classical school, which is
isolated, solitary, poor, and rundown.

Of course, we need thousands of schools that will really be schools, where
the teaching will be specialized, including in the primary grades, by
areas, studies in mathematics, biology, for example, by specialized
teachers, and, of course, with all the comforts, and all necessary teaching
materials, so that a real education can be made possible very early,
because all the gaps of primary education become evident during secondary
studies, and the gaps of secondary studies are evident in the
preuniversity, and preuniversity gaps are evident in the university, and,
later, in the general life of the country, and in all fields of activity
and of intelligence.

We cannot rest in our efforts to create the means and to provide the
recourses to unceasingly improve the quality of teaching, until it becomes
the quality that our country needs for the future. Much building will have
to done: buildings for primary, secondary, technological schools, besides
social constructions, hospitals, roads, and industries, apart from the
installations necessary for the cities and housings, which is a
tremendously serious problem even today.

I believe that any citizen who is concerned about his country, and I doubt
there can be any citizen who can live unconcerned about his country,
because for the first time we live in a situation where work in the country
is for everyone's benefit. [sentence as heard] a country is built for
everyone. For the first time everyone is interested in everything. Anything
good that is done will benefit all of us, and any good thing that is left
undone will harm all of us. And anything poorly done anywhere in the
country affects us all. It is no longer the case of the peasant high on a
hill forgotten by the world, abandoned to his lot, who could tell me: I do
not care because nothing that happens affects or benefits me, whether good
or bad.

In the old society, man could be conceived as isolated, like a wolf, the
enemy of all, the enemy of everybody and everybody his enemy, as in that
society of exploitation where selfishness and individualism fight each
other. As if in today's world there could exist self-sufficient
individuals. No sooner does he leave his house than he starts needing
everybody, from the one who furnishes him transportation to the one who
puts his shoes on and dresses him, serves, and amuses him.

In short, there is no citizen today who could live in this world as a
[words indistinct] in the Middle Ages. Today it is evident that a citizen
in our country needs everything. In the capitalist society he also needed a
lot. But in what a way. It was the (?confession) that everybody wanted to
crush everybody. Everybody was ready to crush everybody and it was a battle
between those who wanted to crush the rest and those who did not want to be
crushed and wanted to crush the others. I cannot more graphically express
that reality.

I do not know if the young comrades can perceive it if they have not
experienced it, but I think that a thing can be intellectually perceived
even if it has not been experienced. Man's behavior can no longer be that,
nor ever be. Man's strength is in the strength of the entire society. A
huge dam must be built so that there can be rice, food, light, meat,
clothing, shoes. Who is going to build the huge dam by himself? A huge
electrical network is needed so that everything works, from the light when
it is switched on to a fan. Man has to use all his strength to build what
he needs to live. The thousands of men engaged in medical research need to
guarantee him his health. A man alone is nothing.

The objective reality of human progress imposes the need for society's
strength in man as the only condition for progress. And in capitalist
societies those forces clash. The strength of societies is mortgaged in
class conflicts and antagonistic interests. A socialist revolution, a
modern revolution, means the suppression of all antagonism and interests,
and suppression of all those factors which make men differ, and the uniting
of all the strength of men and women in a society. Of course, it is
unnecessary to say that in general when we speak and say man we mean the
entire human race. But it is the strength of the entire society without
antagonism and conflicts, advancing in a determined direction, a privileged
that our people enjoy today. It is that extraordinary possibility which is
precisely what permits us to make an incredible advance in the enormous
tasks which we are carrying out at present, and whose fruits are going to
be really reaped very soon.

The figures, the facts, of what is being done already, the scope of the
tasks, are possible only in those conditions. We were able to unite that
strength of all the people, the organization, and the experience, because
it is not only necessary to have that strength, it also has to be given
shape and direction in the best way, in the most fitting sense. And our
people have that huge strength, that extraordinary opportunity, the
opportunity of forging their future. It is the opportunity of reaching the
goals it sets.

For the first time in our history, we are one of the few peoples in the
world that has had that opportunity; the only people on this continent that
has that opportunity. And thanks to this opportunity we have achieved the
small advances which we spoke of before: the number of students at this
university, graduates, the number of students in high school, the number of
students in elementary school. Thanks to that opportunity practically the
entire juvenile population in the country enjoys the possibility of
attending school. Thanks to that opportunity we have in this province alone
15,000 elementary teachers as compared to perhaps 4,000 or 5,000 in the
past, including all the [word indistinct] holders who did not teach. Thanks
to that we can now clearly see that in the turn of a few years middle
students will number hundreds of thousands.

Thanks to that we can now clearly see how the natural unfolding of this
process will lead us to a time when the students at the university level
will reach hundreds of thousands, when all society will attend school. And
that, if we compare it with what we had, and we compare it with 30 percent
illiteracy, if we compare it with the ridiculous number of technical
professionals which this country had, we can see that already in this
single field there is an enormous possibility to generate a drive using the
people's united strength.

What does it mean for a country if we see ignorance everywhere? If we can
see the sad results of ignorance every day, every hour, every minute, every
second, everywhere? If there is a thing which has always been present in a
country which has had to endure centuries of colonialism and backwardness,
if there is something which has always been present, it is ignorance. If
there is anything discouraging, if there is anything painful, it is
ignorance. Many blame others of bad faith when in most cases there is only
ignorance. What is ignorance? It is the ballast which we drag behind us,
which springs upon us everywhere.

If it is a new machine, we are face to face with a new machine for the
first time. If we are given that machine, a few days hence it could end up
like a three kings' toy on the 10th of January. Everybody has lived through
the experience of the three kings' toys and there is no one who has not
taken one apart. All of us have at least once received such a toy and taken
it apart 4 days later. [words indistinct] It is ignorance when someone get
a machine without having the slightest notion of what a machine is, the
care it needs, the type of maintenance, fuel, oil, pieces, and all the
details be must check.

There are someone who saw a screw fall out of his machine and he placed it
next to his seat. He took off a lid and put that next to his seat. The
accelerator soon as nothing but a piece of wire, to pull on. A wrench got
lost, and a connection was broken. And when you come to it, a new machine
worth 20,000 or 25,000 pesos in foreign exchange, becomes a piece of junk.
This is only an example of the many blunders that people make as a result
of a lack of knowledge.

As we have said on other occasions, we have gone from the ox to the
machine, from the watering can to sprinklers. Naturally, we cannot do
without irrigation equipment, mobile pumps, all those mechanical systems,
if we expect to have the minimum of what we need to meet the needs of our

Well now, what is really happening today? As a consequence of the
revolution's efforts, of the revolution's prestige, of the trust in the
revolutions efforts, the investment possibilities of our country have
greatly increased. The amount of machinery that we can purchase is almost
more than the ships which we have to bring them can handle. The bottleneck
is now in transportation, in the docks where we have to unload, and in the
subjective factors involving the exploitation of those machines, in the
operators of that equipment, in the mechanics maintaining that equipment.
So it is no longer a question of the possibility of getting the machine,
but to transport it and exploit it.

At first, there were few equipment operators. For a bulldozer or a tractor
their was one real tractor driver and 100 hopefuls or amateurs; for a truck
there were also 100 hopefuls or amateurs. Today all those who handle that
equipment and all the hopefuls are much less numerous than the number of
machines available. In this country, before the revolution's triumph, there
were about 7,000 tractors. At present there are more than 40,000 tractors.
Of course there were 300,000 cars in this country then. Can you imagine?
What an extraordinary thing. There were 300,000 care and 7,000 tractors in
a country without roads, without water, without sewers, without almost 8
million inhabitants who had to be shoed, clothed, fed, sheltered, who had
to live.

Of course, the generals and the ministers came and smuggled in luxury cars
worth 200 pesos, 300 pesos; and to top it all they were American-made cars
which are known as enormous pieces of junk which use enormous amounts of
fuel compared to a European car. Each one of these 300,000 cars meant
hundreds of pesos in foreign exchange per year for tires, spare parts, and

There were 300,000 cars and the only existing dam was a Charco Mono. Charco
Mono stands as a symbol; it has a historical quality. That dry dam which
you can see when you pass it on the road--where even trees have grown to
this size since the time it held any water--that dam of Charco Mono, 7
million cubic meters, was the only dam built in 50 years of the republic.
The (Anavanillo), which was in construction for hydraulic purposes, was
finished by the revolution, and will now have to do all the work and take
water to agricultural areas. It was begun as an enterprise of a company to
obtain electricity cheaply and sell it dearly. Now we will make use of its
electricity, but above all we will make the best use of its water. The
water is of high economic benefit and contributes more to agriculture than
anything else, given the condition and climate of our country.

If you, for example, compare this year alone, dams to the equivalent of no
less than 1 billion cubic meters are being built; in the period of November
to May, in 6 months, dams of no less than 1 billion cubic meters are being
built, not counting all the drilling being done for exploiting subsoil

You have the facts of 300,000 cars and Charco Mono. And, of course, highway
drivers, races, driving those cars--wasting gasoline, rubber, and
everything, lots of them. But how many mechanics, automotive mechanics,
were there? How many engineers, how many operators of bulldozers,
fumigation planes, fishing boats? How many Merchant Marine machinists, how
many officers, how many captains? How many operators of scrapers,
carryalls, sheepsfoot rollers, heavy trucks, and drays? How many operators
of rice, cotton, or cane combines? How many mechanics, lathe operators? How
many citizens are capable of making only one part?

Naturally, 500,000 cane cutters worked 17 or 18 hours in the harvest. They
earned a pittance. This country carried by oxcart some 50 million tons of
cane, stalk by stalk. For there were no loaders in the country. Yet when 5
or 5.5 million tons of sugar were produced, 40 to 50 million tons of cane
had to be cut and carried stalk by stalk in oxcarts.

Today there are thousands of loaders, and there will be more, in 1970 all
or practically all of it will be handled by lifters. But this country, in
one part of this country, the cane cutters had to cut and carry 50 million
tons of cane every year, 50 million tons of cane--cut by machete stroke by
machete stroke, and carried stalk by stalk.

And that was the wealth this country produced, all the rest was imported.
That was the basic source of this country's foreign exchange, and this paid
for the autos, the accessory parts, tires, and all the luxury items, and
all the finery of the minority which could enjoy it--not just the
bourgeoisie, but frequently the working aristocracy. One could buy a car
for 300 dollars, or a used one for 250 dollars, and spend money on
gasoline, even if one starved--for those who wanted to ride in cars

And who paid for that? Why the 500,000 sugar industry workers. Moreover, to
cut and transport almost 50 million tons of cane in only 4 months, they had
to work 16 to 17 hours daily. Some say that there are persons who work
less. Good, that is logical. For who, in a revolution, when it begins to
solve some of the essential problems of health, education, and labor, can
be asked to keep working 16 hours? It would be illogical.

This is why some of the first machines were worked so hard to increase
production, as well as to alleviate the subhuman working conditions for
hundreds of thousands of workers in this country. [words indistinct]
naturally some went lower down. These are logical things in a first phase
in which many persons thought that the sky had been won, and not the
opportunity to begin to climb the first step to conquer that sky. Many
thought at the outset on that 1 January of 1959 that they had stepped into
the world of wealth, though they had only won the opportunity to begin to
create, amid the throes of underdevelopment, poverty, ignorance, and
misery, the wealth and well being of the future.

Logically, some said that now we will not have to do anything. But that is
not the feeling of the people now, and much less of those dozens and
hundreds of thousands of workers who have declared themselves guerrillas
and thus work 8, 9, 10, and on occasions 12 and more hours, but with a far
different feeling, to step up the pace to meet conclusively the needs of
the country to win the battle over the poverty, ignorance, and misery which
had accumulated over so long a time.

Logically, however, as I was saying, one segment was the worst paid, the
poorest, and the most neglected, and it paid for the 300,000 cars. And
those who cut the cane didn't even have a road, more often than not, not
every an alley, over which they could tread on foot, barefooted, and
hungry. For after the 18-hour day harvest came the dear period in which he
could do not work, and they just kept on wasting gasoline and everything

That is the way it was. Everyone had a drivers license--to drive a
Chevrolet, Ford, Cadillac, or such. And how many technicians were there?
How many engineers? How many operators of that equipment? If we want to
produce 10 million tons of sugar--and a large part of this 10 million must
still be produced with much physical work while we are building and
acquiring all the machines to mechanize the entire cane harvest--and cut
and load 80 or 90 million tons of cane by all machinery, even though sugar
alone will not be the field which will be notably expanded, we will need
5,000 cane combines at least. And these combines will need operators,
mechanics, and many of them will have to be built here by lathe operators,
Cuban machinists.

Furthermore, the rice to be produced in 1970 will require 2,000 combines.
This is because although much is being said about cane, rice, the
development of rice farming is progressing toward the million, yes, the
million [as heard], much more rapidly than some persons imagine. This is
the result of all those caballerias which have been cleared, those canals
now being dug, and those dams being built.

We have new varieties of a very high yield, and we will need 2,000 rice
combines for 1970, just as we need to build dozens and dozens of dryers and
mills. We also need to build pasteurizing plants in all the provinces, as
rapidly as possible.

We are rapidly expanding and revamping all the sugar centrals. For all
industry is buzzing, the railroads, everything, due to the accelerated
growth which the country's farm production will have in these next 24

We will need thousands of operators of cane combines, rice combines,
tractor drivers who will have to work vast expanses and operate over 50,000
tractors in 1970--along with mechanics, lubrication men, maintenance men,
parts manufacturers, and others, as well as for the tens of thousands of
trucks to transport everything.

I believe that these figures alone can serve to illustrate the importance
of the graduation of one engineer, of one technician, one mechanical
engineer, one chemical engineer, and one electrical engineer.

Chemists, for example, are building the Cienfuegos fertilizer plant with a
capacity of almost 500,000 tons, and the Nuevitas plant. Thermoelectric
plants have been and are being built. Cement plants have been and are being
built. Mining is being developed; the exploration, drilling, and production
of oil is being developed, and new refineries will be needed.

Furthermore, besides all this, we must accomplish in these years, build in
these years--for we have not talked about construction--we must complete
all these factories, and we will have to build hundreds of foodstuff
factories and all kinds of plants to process the farm products we will
have. We will need hundreds of shops, hundreds of storehouses, wells,
bridges, highways, more dams, and more construction of all kings--housing,
schools, and hospitals.

How many civil engineers, how many mechanical engineers, how many chemical
engineers, how many economists, how many farmers, how many teachers, and
how many teachers and trained personnel will we need for our country to
make that leap? To emerge from the hole of underdevelopment, our country
must begin a march at an ever more rapid pace, swifter.

Today our problem is to find someone to operate a combine, a mechanic who
can maintain it, or repair it. This really shows how poor, how backward we

Precisely at this point, this December of 1968--when, for example,
technology has been revolutionized in an unbelievable way, when many have
already succeeded in reaching outer space, placing satellites in orbit, and
when there are countries which are in the final stages of preparing to
launch vehicles outside the earth and loop the moon, even landing, and it
no longer will be landing, but lunarizing [alunizar] there--you yourselves
can calculate how many electronic, mathematic, biological, filming, and
energy problems are involved in launching vehicles weighting tons at
velocities which will permit them to leave the earth's orbit, escaping from
earth's law of gravity, for which it is necessary to develop speeds of tens
of thousands of kilometers per hour. How many engineering, mechanical,
chemical metallurgy, and energy problems had to be solved to attain those

I have touched on this one field, but I could also talk of all the others,
to point out how we can solve the one problem of finding one man to operate
a rice combine, and a mechanic who can maintain it, or someone who can
clamber on a scraper, a bulldozer, or a sheepsfoot roller, without wrecking
it in 5 minutes, or drive a 10-tone truck and at least know when it is out
of gas.

Fellow students of Oriente. I believe that you realize that a country like
ours, with centuries of backwardness, indeed wants to have the right to be
part of this world, to live with a minimum of decency, to live with
liberty, and to exist.

As some countries go forward and move farther and farther away, we cannot
say that they progress. We have said on occasion that our proximity to our
primitive predecessors--from whom it is said man comes--our distance from
our primitive predecessors, the monkeys of the jungle, is not growing
farther, but rather nearer. Those who are leading are getting farther and
farther away from us. If once we were at the halfway mark, it will not be
long before we will be only 20 percent of the way. This is because,
relatively, we will be getting nearer and nearer to our irrational

Why? Because man's intelligence,his knowledge, has been advancing at an
incredible pace. What then shall be the future of a people who do not
dominate science, who do not dominate technology, who do not dominate the
most modern production processes, and who will be incapable of abandoning,
I mean of advancing into the depths of developing knowledge and dominate

What shall be the future of illiterate communities? What shall be the
future of backward communities? What shall be the role of these communities
20 to 30 years from now in view of the pace at which the science and
technology of some human communities are advancing, virtually alone.

I believe that these things should lead us to reflect, they should lead us
to meditate and to grasp the importance of a university, a technological
institute, a school, a teacher, and a technician.

Naturally, however, among the underdeveloped countries ours is one of the
few which has the privilege of having attained control over its life,
control of its own destiny, the opportunity to begin to move rapidly away
from a past of ignorance, almost absolute ignorance, and march down the
path of science and the path of progress.

To attain this, when so much time has been lost, when we have emerged from
the most total ignorance, great effort is necessary. Thus the idea is
gaining ground that study should not be an obligation but a need, the most
extraordinary, most genuine, and most essential need of a community like

This will not be, no one can think that study is the result of anyone's
whim, anyone's mania, but rather it is the most vital need of a country.
And, since this is a fact, these are realities, the events of the coming
year will bring this home to us more and more.

On a day like this, when thousands of students of the eastern region are
gathered together, I do not believe that anything could be more useful and
more important than to emphasize these things and call the attention of
youth to these realities, calling upon their sense of responsibility, their
sense of duty, and, above all, the need of our people to leap over phases,
march at a rapid pace, so they can make up for the backwardness of
centuries, have the right to take a decorous and worthy place in this
world, have the right to exist.

We wish our fellow graduates the best of successes in their work, in the
new tasks they set, in study. We wish them the best of progress. And it is
our wish that year by year the number who graduate from this university and
other learning centers will be even greater, until the day when we can say
that study is a universal factor of our people.

Fatherland or death, we will conquer.