Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana Domestic Radio and Television Services in Spanish 0140 GMT 8 Dec 70

[For the first part of Cuban Premier Fidel Castro's speech at the basic
industry national plenum on production see Volume VI, page 0 1 of the 8

[Text] Furthermore, he is a burden, an unproductive consumer, and who can
better develop this sense of struggle than the workers? Who can better
adopt a position against the parasites and against the unproductive
consumer who does not produce because he does not feel like it and prefers
instead to live off others? In other words, this person is a thief, except
for children, the aged, the ill, and the [word indistinct] who do not have
to work. They shall have everything. We will work for them, for those who
cannot produce, for those who need this. But not for the vagrants! They are
not going to become our exploiters! Our new exploiters!

Thus, we are aware of the workers feelings in this matter and in other
problems too: a strong and firm position against this kind of behavior. If
some workers have not had the opportunity to become familiar with the
workers hard and strong hand, they most likely will when whatever bourgesie
dogs there are are sledge-hammered by the workers hand.

We were saying that we have been liberating a battle and that the 100-day
bonus was established. This has been a serious effort to increase
production and to solve all our problems. We are going to have problems for
years. But, in whatever measure is possible, we can ease and better our
situation by overcoming whatever situation can be overcome.

This, then, has been our situation. But what is our most difficult problem,
one of our most difficult trials right now? Our most difficult problem, one
of our most difficult trials right now is this sugar harvest. This sugar
harvest! Why? Because the previous sugar harvest was preceded by a great
campaign and a great awareness of the problem. Everyone was mentally
prepared for that harvest. The difficult part about this harvest is that we
must produce it and that at the same time now allow all our efforts of
these past few months toward solving our problems and (?increasing)
production in a number of important factories go to waste.

During the assembly, all the maintenance work required in industry was
discussed and the problems in the electrical industry were discussed.

At this time we are involved in much industrial construction, and are
determined to follow the policy of pounding the very last nail that arrives
here. All our thermoelectric plants, all the machinery that has arrived are
the main thing now. Many of machines must be assembled: freezers, ice
plants, milk pasteurizing plants for the milk process, ice for the fishing
industry, ice for the people, ice for conservation and distribution of ice,
and also freezers to be used in agriculture and for preserving products.
This assorted machinery must be assembled. We are seriously determined to
do so.

Also, we are going to set up 150 storage centers without paralyzing
industrial investment. The reason for this is that once initial investments
are made they should be carried through. Rice mills and rice dryers must be
built. In conclusion, a large volume of serious work must be done.

If you examine the docks you will discover that they are breaking up; they
cannot handle the flow of cargo, which has increased just as our population
has increased. There is the problem of dredging these harbors, the problem
of docks, of warehouses--some warehouses are 50 years old. These problem
coincide with the problems of housing, schools, warehouses, factories,
roads, dams, aqueducts, sewage, road paving, transportation. All these
problems are parallel; the maintenance of railroads, the reconstruction of
some sections. All these problems are real.

How can we resolve the problem of hard wood, which we do not have in the
large quantities that were formerly available for use as ties? The supply
of other wood does not resolve the railroad ties problem. We have had to
develop our own techniques, which we must improve so as to control the
quality of all these products so that they may fulfill their function. The
country has many problems to solve--not just electrical connections in
homes, gas tanks, or railroad wheels. The country has many greater
problems, some of which I have already mentioned. In the matter of dredging
ports alone--the dredges are old and ineffective, and new ones are
expensive. Besides, we have the problem of tugs and other boats. Regarding
ports, we must attend to buoys, lighthouses, all of them; the dredging of
all the harbors, tugs, docks, equipment to discharge cargo, warehouses, a
serious, serious, serious chain of things. There is much to do in all these
fields, and some things are urgent.

In industry, all must still be mounted, quite aside from the 150
distribution centers that are being built by the Cuban steel enterprise.
These must be mounted, and 150 more will be built between now and April.
They will be built during the first half of the year. All these must be
mounted during 1971 without stopping operations in any industry, and while
opening new industries.

We must complete the installation of the O'Bourke plant, the second unit at
Nuevitas, completion of the first unit here, the Nuevitas fertilizer plant,
the Felton mixing plant--we must mount a series of industries. All this
work must be done. We cannot suspend work. We cannot suspend the work on a
series of basic industries, and yet we have to have a large cane harvest.
This is the problem.

How can we do all this without negatively affecting all our efforts--and
yet harvest the cane? Because, of course, gentlemen, we cannot do without
this harvest. Many may believe that we could do without this harvest. The
problems of the harvest are easily understood if we keep the following
facts in mind. These are only a few data. Let us begin with the year before
the revolution when we had almost 2 million fewer people. At that time we
had a cane-cutting force of approximately 350,000 to 400,000--nobody ever
counted them. During the republic there was never a cane-cutting shortage.
The sugarcane has its history. It is related to one of the most inhumane
episodes, the most inhumane dramas of history--the slavery problem. During
the sugarcane industry slavery was introduced. During the peak of the
sugarcane industry in the republican era, immigrants came to Cuba.

But in the end hunger resolved the sugarcane problem. Hunger, vacations,
and unemployment resolved the cane problem. Hunger and unemployment. There
was a reserve of workers without work, and there was never a shortage of
cane cutters in any canefield in Camaguey or anywhere else. After 8 years
of revolution, that cane-cutting force of 350,000 to 400,000 men has
dwindled down--it seemed someone counted them--to 143,368. In 1968 there
were 105,598; in 1969, 88,300; and in 1970 there were only 79,752 of these
regular cane cutters. It is estimated that there will be 72,986 in 1971.
These are the regular cane cutters left in Cuba.

The need to mechanize cane-cutting here became evident when these cane
cutters began to dwindle. The first little machines, the first efforts to
make cane-cutting machines--there were none to be had anywhere--began then.
This was a period of great efforts. The Soviets tried to help us to develop
increasingly better machinery; but not the type of machinery that would
cause us to say that the problem had been solved--to bring about mass
production. We have developed good machinery here. Let me say this, that
our basic industry shops have been produced very good machinery but there
is a great difference between this machinery, which is made with a file and
hand tools, and machinery made satisfactorily, with its hydraulic systems
and complicated mechanisms.

In this we had had the illusion that our industry would resolve the
problem. Equipment was invented for the distribution center. The Henderson
combine cutters were invented. These must have imported bulldozers, which
are costly. The mechanization problem has been a matter of real concern.
But the migration of cane-cutters from the cane fields was must greater
than the increase of mechanization.

The fact is that sugarcane is the basic resources of the country. We had
been saying that we have to import almost everything we use. This depends
on the structure of our production, which cannot be changed in the
twinkling of an eye. Some industries, such as the machine industry, are
being developed in Cuba for the first time. The production of fertilizer,
without disagreeing with the comrades of Cubanita or Matanzas, is beginning
to be developed, and they were the first to produce nitrogenized
fertilizer. At the outset they used to mix it; but I believe it has been
made clear that their plant is not a mixer but producer of fertilizer.

Fortunately, we also have the large Cienfuegos plant, and another plant
that is to be completed in 1973. We should make the effort to complete it
in 1972, when the country will be producing nearly 1 million tons of
fertilizer; or at least 800,000 tons or nearly so. This does not include
the mixed fertilizer. We must also mention that the comrades of the Regla
fertilizer plant are producing superphosphate from phosphoric rocks. This
is not a mixture. They produce the superphosphate, which they then mix with
something else, but they really produce it. This is true, and they produce
it under very difficult conditions, according to comrade who is
representing them here. They have come up with certain improvements
recently, however.

So, several branches of industry have begun to be developed here. This
process is slow. We depend on foreign trade. Our main item is sugar. It is
very, very, very clear--and we must all get it into our heads--that we
cannot do without this harvest. This is very important. And we must harvest
by cutting cane. The mechanization process is slow. Of the 150 distribution
centers only a few will be ready for this harvest; but another 150 will be
mounted during the second half of the year. They will help in the 1972
harvest. The Henderson machines will be ready for the next harvest.

So, an exodus from the canefields has been taking place. Now, where are the
cane-cutters? They have not all become old. It is true that no one has been
joining the canecutters' union, unless by necessity. I believe that when
that union is formed it will be largest of all. Almost every person has cut
cane at some time or other. It should be interesting--I believe the Labor
Ministry must investigate the matter of where all the canecutters are, even
if it is just for the sake of information, so that we can all know. The
real problem has been that no one has joined these forces, while some have
become too old to work and many have taken on other activities.

We have here a report made in 1968 when 103 canecutters were missing. They
were located as follows: machine shop, nine; other agricultural activity,
five; livestock, one; forestry, two; heads of brigades, two; heads of
departments, 10; administrative career and agriculture, three; agriculture
transports, three; the canecutters have gone after other jobs, obviously.
They have been passing into other areas--some are studying, some work with
machinery, others work in transportation. This is natural. All citizens
have aspirations to improve their types of work. This is reality. It was
logical that this should take place.

Now, has the large migration of workers from the fields to other activities
brought about a large production increase? No. There is a very serious
worker problem, a problem that surprised practically everyone, for at the
triumph of the revolution, with a much smaller population, there were half
a million unemployed. That was the problem then. In those days it was
almost necessary to invent jobs for the people. Our problem has come upon
us suddenly. No one had thought of productivity as a basic matter.
Unemployment was the problem then, whereas today's problem is the shortage
of manpower for basic activities despite the population increase.

Yet in many areas production has not increased; in some areas it has
decreased. Of course, in some areas production has increased considerably.
There are new activities that did not exist in the past, services such as
education and public health which have increased considerably; there are
many areas where many are doing something. Is this the bottomless pit that
is presently wasting manpower here? The lack of efficiency and
unproductiveness--low production? [applause]

Despite the fact that in 1959 we were unable to foresee today's problems,
we recall that we defended certain criteria regarding productivity and
employment. This could happen with almost any industry. I ask the comrades
of the sector that we are about to mention as an example not to take this
as a personal matter, not to believe they are the only guilty persons in
Cuba, since all of us are guilty. Guilt is everywhere, in ever area, and in
almost every work center. Minas had approximately 91,655 workers in 1958.
In 1955 this force had increased slightly to 94,759. In 1969 it had a force
of 114,519 and in June 1970 it has a work force of 126,643. It is true that
the distribution centers use more workers than the winch used to need, and
that certain centrals have been enlarged; but there is no proportion. With
36,000 more workers than in 1958, and with all the enlargements to aid
increased production, there has been a considerable drop in sugar
production there.

A comparative study is being made at each central of the workers they
employed during the capitalistic era and the workers presently employed to
see the increase of decrease in production at these centrals. Of course, we
already have a study on man-day productivity in the sugar industry. Man-day
productivity may be affected by the amount of cane ground by the mill, by
the yield of the cane--it yields less early and late in a long harvest. All
this affects the man-day productivity. But the real fact is that the
increase of 36,000 men is a respectable figure. And many of these centrals
absorb workers from the fields. We have mentioned this example because we
recall that despite the fact that in 1959--as I was saying--we were far
from imagining today's problems. In this theater, before it was rebuilt, we
had an ethical confrontation of criteria.

Some of you remember this event, although most of you are too young, but it
did not take place so long ago, just 11 years ago. It was in 1959, during a
plenary assembly of the representatives of the sugar workers. The problem
of the sugar industry's four shifts was presented here. I had to stand
here, before a huge mass--this place was full--applauding frantically for 5
minutes the slogan of four shifts for the sugar mills. My role then was
very unpleasant; to stand here and argue about the slogan of the four
shifts for the sugar mills.

Mind you; to debate this when the mills did not yet belong to the people;
worse still, it could not be admitted that the mills were going to belong
to the people. Furthermore, how to convince the workers who were there,
considering the unemployment, not to establish the four shirts, contrary to
popular demand. We had to debate the issue from an economic point of view;
we had to say that the mills, that the money earned by them was not theirs
because it had to be invested in the country's development, that if it was
not invested in the country's development, if the revolution did not invest
in the country's development [thought not completed]

We had to explain how we would solve the problem by dividing the employment
we had then without creating new riches; and that our problem was to
develop the country's economy, to create new jobs in order to create new
riches; and that this method, the method of distributing jobs was suicide,
a lie and pure suicide. So we argued with the workers, and they eventually

Of course, the bourgeois press was very happy the following day. They said,
what a bright young man; [laughter] how well he reasons; how he defends the
economy. To be sure, we were defending the economy of the revolution and
not of the bourgeoisie, but they imagined what they wanted to imagine. We
did not forget all this, but the fact is that had been able to use such
decisive arguments, much more solid ones, as: look here gentlemen, all of
these mills are going to belong to the people; we are going to nationalize
all of them.

We could not say this. Yet without going into all these reasons, the
argument was valid. How much more so when the mills were to become part of
the economy of all of the people. And so, you can see how things are; all
that effort. The effort was titanic; we must call it so, considering that
the assembly was full of delegates from all the mills. If I recall
correctly, they were even on strike. And still they demanded four shifts.
But you can see that had we accepted the four shifts, about 25,000 or
30,000 workers would have joined the sugar industry. As it is, four and
one-half shifts have joined anyway. Some 36,000 have joined. What happened
in the sugar industry has also happened in many other industries.

That, of course, does not develop riches; that does not develop the
productive force. What is produced and consumed in this way is not used for
shoes, for dressing, for digesting. What is produced does not solve
anyone's problems and we certainly do have problems, is that no so?
Furthermore, we know what they are, we see them constantly and everywhere,
such as when we seek shoes, clothes, stockings, anything. Everyone, as I
said, sees the problems, but removed; the problems are not seen as being
too close. The basic questions [thought not completed]

In other words, this move toward many industries, a good part of the move,
has become nonproductive. This, gentlemen, is the bottomless pit which can
swallow all of the country's human resources. And whatever swallow's the
country's resources, swallows the country's riches and welfare and the
material goods so desperately needed.

For it is true that a good part of our problem is not solved with human
resources, it is equally true that nowadays a large part of our problems
have nothing to do with human resources, or with the incorrect use of human
resources or cadres in the decisive or priority matters for the economy.

We could never complain about the human resources who go to schools, to
hospitals, and similar services. No, even females, those who have become
involved in education and in the medical services. And we repeat that ours
is an economy that depends on a product with a low production level, namely
sugar. If we were like other countries, some underdeveloped countries, with
great natural resources of another type, [thought not completed] Of course,
we do have natural resources, but they are of a specific type. Some
countries have huge mining resources, petroleum for example, and with 10 or
15 or 20,000 people producing a billion in foreign exchange. Other
countries, such as Chile which has copper, with a few thousand workers
produce a billion in currency.

We have great natural resources in nickel, but it would require enormous
investments in complex technical matters. Theoretically, and given the
market, we too could get a billion in hard cash with 25,000 to 30,000
workers in the nickel industry. But, we would also have to invest a billion
in the most expensive technology. A billion, mind you.

Our sun is a valuable resource; our cane is a valuable natural resource. It
has some disadvantages. It is an industry which produces only during half
the year. One of its problems is that it creates cyclic work. Later on came
the theories of the permanent work at the sugar mills, with 123,000
permanent [workers]. Now we really must find a way to use this human
resource when the mills are not in operation. All these theories must be
revised, because it is the type of industry which must be dismantled every
year. Usually, an industry operates all year.

And this is why they have the type of repairs they do have. But even if we
suppose that we could do 50 percent of the repairs, we think along the
lines of solving the problems with that work force, such as by using it in
construction: To solve similar problems in the field of housing and
schools; housing at the mills and in the field; in the industries and
elsewhere, because we must think of how to utilize that human resource. And
if this is the way it is in industry, just think of how much
transportation, the shipping of the sugar, plus those cutting the cane and
those who must transport the cutters. [thought not complete]

The Ministry of Labour made a study of the sugar industry; I forget now,
but there were supposed to be 600,000 man-years; or 500,000 man-years. They
probably calculated an even higher number. Anyway, 500,000 man-years just
to produce even less than a billion in currency. But we have the very
special circumstances that from our economy's basic product springs
production which will continue to use one-half million man-years as long as
we have not completely modernized it. Nevertheless, even if we did all the
things by machine, we would still have 100,000 men in the industry.

Of course, there will always be a high number of men in the industry. Even
if everything were mechanized, then a couple of dozen thousand men [thought
not completed]. Naturally, the problem lies in the magnitude of the volume
of men which the country must employ in its basic (?industry), and
logically these men cannot be there and be constructing something at the
same time, or on the assembly line, or working in the same factory. Of
course, this lack of men today is a necessity; this lack of men was

Did the country have any way of avoiding this? We have had other activities
besides the sugar harvest which have demanded our investment of great human
resources. These are two factors in which we had been forced to invest much
of our human resources, although it is equally true that we have been able
to conciliate, to a great degree, both things; the soldiers have been
participating in large numbers in the cane cutting. During certain periods,
of course, because they must engage in other activities related to defense.
And we, by means of agriculture, must still produce the basic food
staples--this is in addition to sugarcane. And the most difficult time is
when this critical moment appears.

The truth is that several activities have been mechanized, thereby
diminishing the effort previously needed to accomplish a whole series of
things. Nowadays, as a matter of fact, no one has to cut and left the
sugarcane. A very high percentage--I forget how much, but it is a very high
number, perhaps 80 or 85 percent--is lifted by machinery, with the lifters.
In the past all this cane had to be cut and lifted by hand. Nowadays, a
large percentage of the sugar is shipped in bulk, while in the past, all
the sugar had to be carried on the shoulders of men. There was no equipment
for bulk shipping, and the workers would not have allowed it. Nevertheless,
a good part of the sugar nowadays is shipped in bulk, and we shall continue
to build warehouses for bulk sugar.

In the country today, a large part of the constructing is done with cranes.
And so the construction process is become more and more mechanized. No one
repairs roads anymore with a pick and shovel; bulldozers and other
equipment are used. Very little of the land is tilled now, with oxen, that
is. Yet in the past the over-whelming majority of the land was tilled by
men and oxen; the ox ahead and the man behind holding the plow. There was
little difference between man and beast. That is how our fields used to be
tilled. In other words, most of the basic activities were carried out in
the most backbreaking of ways.

That is, practically all fundamental activities were carried out at the
cost of most painful labor. The harvest involved is, 16, and 17 hours of
work daily. The same was happening in construction work, other harvests,
plowing of land, sugar loading. Helping the harvest, the country went to
the fields with carts and oxen, and men had to get up at 0200 in the
morning to get oxen out of the stables and yoke them and then go to bed at
ungodly hours.

Today, most of the cane and all other agriculture products are loaded on
trucks and tractors. How many activities, therefore, have been humanized
and made easier; how many of them do not require human effort any more? How
is it, however, that although our population has increased by 2 million,
and when we no longer have to heave cane, it is such a serious problem to
carry out the harvest? And this desperate the existence of storage centers
which have made it possible to increase work productivity? And we still,
despite it all, are facing a situation in which the harvest may become the
country's fundamental, decisive, and most serious problem. And we see that
all other activities have been absorbing manpower.

Productivity has been practically forgotten and lack of productivity is an
abyss which threatens to engulf manpower and the country's resources. We
must become conscious and you, workers, must also become conscious of this
existing problem. There are obligations which cannot be ignored or avoided.

Our comrades from the ministry are studying the problem of establishing
norms in 660 work centers. To give an example, we are experimenting with
the establishment of norms in some cases. We chose some work centers where
productivity is of special importance.

Let us take the (Pkamadero) shoe factory. It had 234 workers. The number
now proposed is 180, which is 54 fewer workers. The daily production was
600 pairs of shoes. The planned production is 900 pairs. Existing
productivity per worker is 2.56 and the proposed productivity is 5 pairs of
shoes per day, or a 95 percent productivity increase.

Measures to be taken: a) normal imposed on each working place, b)
harmonization of the process, introduction of less complicated shoemaking
equipment; c) construction of a storage area, as the existing storage
obstructs space and prevents free movement while stores of raw material and
finished products prevent good work; d) relocate canteen for the same
reasons and to save time, e) install a refrigerator on upper floor to same
time taken by workers when fetching water from lower floor.

Another example: The MINSAP working center, Saul Delgado Laboratory,
formerly Sarrat Pharmaceutical Production. The plant had 456 workers. The
new plan also allows 456 workers. Former monthly production, 4,618,494
units, planned production, 8,400,312 units. Former productivity per worker,
10,121 units monthly; planned productivity, 18,421 units per worker
monthly. Resulting increase per worker, 82 percent. Adopted measures:
Installation of four national production container washers; installation of
three recapping machines for imported containers; work reorganization,
elimination of waste, and smoother production flow; establishment of norms.
This plan has already been applied and its effectiveness verified during 2

Here is another example where the increase is still higher: La Habana shoe
factory. Previous situation: Approved number of workers, 115; actually
employed, 99. Daily production: 375 pairs of shoes; labor yield per day,
73.3 percent; organizational losses, 18.2; disciplinary losses, 8.5:
productivity per worker, 3.68 pairs of shoes per day. Present plan approved
by workers: 64 workers, or 51 less than previously approved and 35 less
than previously employed. Daily production: 1,200 pairs; production per
worker, 18.75 per day; productivity increase, 509 percent.

This of course is not a typical case. There is a 20, 25, or 30 percent
increase in most other cases, and the workers are not very experienced;
they have not yet achieved their maximum productivity. These examples are
very clear, without any unusual factors. They are examples that we have in
our hands. And there are other similar cases. Our possibilities are
enormous; we still have enormous resources to exploit and need only a
productivity increase that can be reached with very little additional
effort, through better work day utilization, more discipline, some
rationality, common-sense and a series of small details.

There are other examples we could give, such as a road construction workers
brigade now working double shifts and achieving more construction work than
last year when it had three times as many workers. This same principle can
be applied to a whole series of other activities and help us achieve a
great economy of work effort. We can distribute work more adequately, and
it is not necessary to put all the weight on any one person's shoulders or
make work harder. No.

We can distribute among all of us any task. We must all participate in the
production of material goods. We all can and must do our part in whatever
task presents itself. We can either cut cane one day, then do another job
the next, or hold an assembly, which is one of the tasks which should
really be minimized, because, they are kind of hard, aren't they? I would
like to be minimized out of assemblies. At least, if I am asked to do
voluntary work I will choose something else. But of course, assemblies have
to be accepted because they are useful and we must go on holding them. What
we want to say and what is certain is that we must distribute work among
all of us. But it would be absurd to have a highly qualified machine
operator cut cane.

It is not rational that we do that. There are many of us who are not highly
skilled. there are many of us who one way or another can distribute the
work to be done among us, and solve this problem. Today, when the cane
veterans have disappeared, cane cutting cannot be solved by saying: Well,
we have here 200,000 or 300,000 citizens, we will do it or bust, but they
are not a cane cutters. No, the problem cannot be solved that way. That is
no solution. The long-term solution lies in the use of machinery, but the
short-term solution lies in understanding the problem, in understanding by
the workers, understanding by the people.

And this means understanding by all--workers, organizations, ministries,
everybody. The harvest is not the problem of the sugar mill, of the MINAZ,
and so forth, alone. It is not the problem of those who are guarding sugar
fields on a farm. The harvest is everybody's problem and when a problem is
everybody's, everybody has to take part in the problem. And we all have to
concern ourselves with the problem, and we all have to do our part in the
problem. No one can evade that responsibility. This is an obligation no one
can afford to evade just as no one here would shrink from danger
--right?--if danger threatens, and if an invasion comes, no revolutionary,
no conscientious worker would run away from danger and he would feel great
shame if he were to say: No, I am not going to mobilize, I am not going to
take arms, I am going home.

Well, the thing is that to risk one's skin does not really require so much
effort. It takes less effort than cutting cane. People in general are
basically brave, and they are also basically the other thing. But danger
always has more volunteers. When patriotism calls, the response is almost
unanimous. When the other obligations come up, it is not unanimous. We are
a bit unilateral in the way we fulfill our duties. For some, we give all.
For others, we do not. And of course, I want to make clear how we see the
matter. The problem is everybody's duty.

But it is not only everybody's duty. It is not enough to say that we have
grown aware of the harvest and everybody goes trooping over. No, it is not
that way. It is much more complicated, much more complex than that. We have
to solve the problem of the harvest, and solve it without stopping the
effort we have been making in the rest of the industry, and this simply is
a problem faced by the ministries, and all the organizations, and everybody
here. And we are not seeking desperate, pell mell solutions, no.

And speaking of this sort of thing, we would like to explain a problem that
some workers asked us about the burning of cane. A national policy is
followed regarding the came that is to be razed and also the cane on
irrigated land. In the southern zone, in the province of Havana, we have
advocated the use of the burned cane. Why?

I think it was wrong to talk about the problem without explaining the
basics, and this caused concern among many workers, because there is an
antiburning culture and this is logical. Now, what happens, and why do we
have the higher percentage policy? In the province of Havana, it can be
turned. One of the fundamental reasons--and we have explained this to our
comrades in this province--is that in this province we have to carry out
the harvest with half the number of macheteros with which we carried it out
last year. Half, because the province has 70 percent of the nonsugar
industry in the country. We have here the big textile companies, the big
shoe factories, the big industrial production centers, and we have to watch
out that that production is not affected.

That is very important. In the second place, if we want to have a high
productivity for each caballeria of cane, we have to renew the stock rather
frequently. The province of Havana has almost 2,500 more caballerias
planted than last year. This includes the 69 winter, 70 spring, 71 winter,
and it is possible that it may reach 3,000 by 31 October. It could be
reached in the first half of January, in fact. This is a renewal of 25
percent of its stock and with a yearly renewal of 25 percent of stock we
can get high yields in cane, and we can burn a larger area. Besides, the
province's local climate with its spring--winter [corrects himself] rains
due to the cold and north winds although they can affect the sugar
production as they did last year, the rains fall regularly and permit
cultivation and fertilization, the cultivation on gradients, the saving of
herbicides by employing herbicides only in the hilum of the cane and
improving the cane.

In the third place, it appears to be an indubitable fact that mechanization
in the next 10 years can be made a reality only through the burning of
sugar. In other words, the most difficult problem for us has consisted not
so much in finding suitable machinery to cut cane as in finding machinery
capable of cutting green cane. The Henderson cuts green cane and deposits
it at a storage center. Almost half of what the carts and tractors carry is
bagasse. Then the cost of the investment in machinery, in carts, (?tires),
men, and all is enormous, so that our industry suffers the very effect of
mechanization or is reduced by the costs of the (?equipment) and men,
although there is an increase in productivity.

In other countries, like Australia and Hawaii, all the industrialized
countries, they have always worked with burnt cane. Of course with the
burning of the cane, the stock does not last 20 or 25 years, but also
[words indistinct] a cane agriculture of high productivity cannot have a
stock for 25 years. In the burning there is a certain loss of nitrogen in
the bagasse. On the other hand, there is a certain more rapid recovery of
potassium, phosphorus, and other mineral elements. In other words, our
judgment, the cane, the question of burning or not burning the cane with
machinery, will take years in being technically solved. It may take 10, 15,
20, or 2. It will be justified from the economic viewpoint when the bagasse
is used in an industrial process, such as, through the fermenting process,
the production of yeast, that is to say, or protein.

In the meantime two things are faced: An enormous technical difficulty in
cutting green cane, and cleaning it which means almost carrying a storage
center on each machine. It is an enormous technical difficulty to solve
this, and enormous costs would result from this mechanization to load a
product (?which has no) industrial use.

So, since we cannot continue in this desperate situation of cutting by
hand, since it is desperately necessary to mechanize the cutting, we must
accept the fact that to help mechanization, as the other countries have
done, we must burn. All of this, moreover, has limitations today to the
extent that there are areas of the country where it does not rain, where
the damage to the stock is greater, but as we extend the irrigation system,
while at the same time we also develop the planting of cane in flat areas,
we shall be creating the conditions to facilitate mechanization, by burning
the cane.

The province which has the best conditions for the application of this
technique, because it has a storage center--there is a limitation, however,
the only one we must take into account, a basic one, where it will occasion
harm to the canecutter--so that part will be cut learned and [words
indistinct] and another green cane. In any case, last year's experience
demonstrated that the canecutters preferred the burned cane.

They had a much higher productivity. That is, a place with a crane becomes
a storage center. Now this also has its disadvantages. One cannot or should
not always be cutting burned cane. The sugar industry has to be more
careful in the processing of that cane. The organization has to be much
more efficient because [words indistinct].

If the cane is cut and remains standing, it increases in weight and
decreases in yield, because there is absorption of moisture through the
root. If the cane is burned and then cut, the weight decreases and the
sugar yield increases. In any case, if there is a delay, whether it is
standing or on the ground, it can create difficulties in the industrial
process, so that the ideal is to cut it as rapidly as possible after it is
burned and to transfer it as quickly as possible to the mill. This gives
the greatest industrial yield because of the fact that if it is burned and
then cut, the weight decreases and the proportion of sugar increases.

Scientific studies made in other countries have been checked here in Cuba,
and of course some tests were carried out last year in connection with
these studies. We believe that it is very important here in this province
to reduce to a minimum, to half if possible, the number of industrial
workers who had to go cut cane last year. Thus, that is the explanation for
the workers on the matter under discussion.

The other alternative--because some people bring up the disadvantages but
no one gives the solution to the problem. What can we do? Stop the harvest?
The measure, of course, is not a desperate kind of measure in any way. It
is a rational measure perfectly applicable to the provinces. But the only
unquestionable thing is that we have to harvest. And there are other things
behind it. We were recalling last time--that CTT activity in which we had
to go through that unpleasant moment--we had to argue in front of an
enormous mass of delegates of the workers who asked for a number of things.
And this time we also have to clarify some matters in which we are also
going to differ, if not with you, then at least with a part of the

And these are the following matters which have been waiting for
definitions. There has been some confusion about some things, and I, in all
sincerity, am going to state them. One of them concerns the holidays. There
have been rumors about the holidays being celebrated now or in July.
Reference was made to the first time I spoke about the problem and we said
that we did not want to change traditions and that the machinery would come
one day to reestablish the country's traditions.

There was talk about the holidays being held at the end of the year. That
is what was said. Whether these things were said or not, what we say with
the best intentions in the world, the objectivity of what may be said, is
independent from the honesty with which it is said, isn't that so? We know
how to speak objectively and honestly. With that, I mean to say that what
one says does not automatically turn into a law a mandate, or anything of
the kind, no, (?we are going to find) solutions by setting forth the

This is said--I am going to speak about the problem again--are there going
to be holidays this year or not? I want to start out by saying that we
believe that the holidays should be held on the same day as last year. This
year, there are of course, the holidays coming to the workers in many
factories. That is, the annual vacations that were divided and postponed
last year will not change. Vacations will be granted. I believe that the
Education Ministry also has some days at the end of the year when the
teachers get together.

We think it is an illusion to evade reality. It would be weakness, it would
be carrying out an ostrich policy,, it would even be cowardly and unworthy
for us to come here and say: no, well, since a lot of people want it, and
get the people all excited about the holidays. Since the role of a party
proper is very unpleasant, as it is to be the advocate of unpleasant
things, instead of evading responsibility, I will tell you in plain terms
that I will never do that. Never. And I must say in all certainty what I
believe about this matter. We have begun to harvest and we are behind in
the harvest.

We have over 5 billion arrobas of cane despite the great drought that
affected us. That is, there is cane for around 7 million tons of sugar. And
7 million tons of sugar is the minimum of what the country needs, around 7
million. This is the truth and you workers know this well, and you comrades
who have taken part in other assemblies know of the country's great need.

We cannot expect to live off the generosity of others. No, and what
alternative do we have (?if we do not produce that sugar)? The barest of
possibilities. Considering our obligations, let no one think that we
splendidly fulfill all of them with 7 millions. No, we have enormous
deficits. Especially in regard to the Soviet Union. That is, the needs of
our country have reached a level by which 7 millions--if we want to have a
certain quantity of break, fuel, electricity, the country's development--is
not enough. And although it is proper for a country during the developing
stage to have deficit and there is no way out of our having large deficits
and with 7 million our deficits are still very big.

Our country has sugar, nickel, some shrimp and lobster to export plus a
limited quantity of tobacco. This tobacco is limited due to the increase in
demand and the drop in production in Pinar Del Rio. The least we can do is
ask our comrades in that province to produce tobacco, to ask the workers
and peasants of Pinar Del Rio to resume former levels and increase the
production of tobacco, because it has become a problem.

Just as we know what tobacco and its implications for us, it also has
economic implications. The whole history of tobacco has been divulged, the
very real and true history of its ill effects on health. Yet, we have
trouble with internal demand and trouble with exports. It is one of the
problems we have proposed to be discussed with the workers to establish a
price policy with the workers. Otherwise, tobacco distribution is [words
indistinct] a box of cigars. These are sold everywhere for 5 pesos, 4 pesos
on the black market. We need a fixed price, regulations. In any case,
tobacco is a source of taxes also, and helps us to emerge from the
inflationary situation in the country due to the excess of currently
circulating, and that constitutes a serious problem.

I am not talking about basic foodstuffs. [applause] To us, the workers
bring us a problem [that no one can solve], a real dilemma and the problem
carries its contradiction within itself because we do the impossible to try
and solve it. When they see the smoke of a cigar, it develops into a
conscience trauma. If we should say now, yes, now they expect to sell--they
already have a sales program for television sets, refrigerators, and
produce of work centers. But now if we go on with the cigar and also the
work center, what are we going to do? Kill the workers? Sell to them? Let
us provide them with other things. Let them choose and a limit be set. But
to ration tobacco? That is the hardest thing in the world. Who is to get it
and who is to go without. We would gladly say let us put them all up in
work centers but in all conscience would this be the correct formula? Are
we going to promote cancer among the workers? No. It is a very different
issue altogether. All the efforts to improve the school cafeterias, the
workers cafeterias, all that. But tobacco is a problem of another kind.
Well, it should be discussed with the workers. I believe it is the workers
who must make the decision they want on this problem. We are going to
propose a document for them to analyze. [words indistinct] This cannot be
an administrative solution, this has to be a problem to be solved according
to the degree of conscience and maturity on these matters. We must have an
increase in tobacco production in Pinar Del Rio. That business of cancer is
all right for not smoking it but not for not producing it. What it can
produce for us is a stomachache. And deprive us of health, too. The country
has to invest tens of millions of dollars in medicines, in medicine only,
every year and we need resources to buy them. (?And the country has had to
go through a lot). And it has had to make a lot of effort and go through a
lot of tension. Such matters as having no monetary fund. It doesn't grow
when sugar is at one and a half cents. We have to go around spending every
cent scrupulously. We have to take into consideration the need that our
country has for foreign exchange each year and on which the enemy has
directed its main blows to make the sale of copper more difficult for us,
to deprive us of currency. And then the tobacco thing is affecting us in
terms of currency. The least we can expect from Pinar Del Rio is that they
produce tobacco. [applause]

Therefore, we need around 7 million, and we are already behind in the
harvest, we are already behind. Sugar mills that should have begun work
have not. We are accumulating delays and it is not a matter of 1, 2, or 3
days affecting the harvest. It is not that. Because of a whim, because we
may want to celebrate the new year, what about 1 and 2 January? Who
wouldn't want those holidays off.

We are behind in the harvest. Mills that should be grinding are running
behind, but to cut a harvest, that is just not the main problem, though it
is not a whim either. We want to celebrate the new year and the 1st of
January and the 2d of January. Who does not want to do this, without having
to feel guilty? But we can afford the luxury? Under these conditions? I
once said that the machines should come to the rescue of production but I
think now that they should not come to the rescue of production. I say this
sincerely. Who wants to get involved in a problem like this? I am only
stating a viewpoint. But there is a reality of tradition here. Yes, very
beautiful, yes, very poetical, yes, of course, we are (?not denying this)
when on the 24th the thought of the little Christmas tree is worrying us.
But we are not in France, in Belgium, or in Holland. We are in the tropics.
Traditions were brought from Europe but that is not the reality of this
country. We are canecutters, we do not have the Maracaibo Gulf and its
petroleum. No.

There is oil, but to find oil taxes work, and besides it has to be
extracted. One has to work very hard to extract. This has been going on for
some time--but not in the old way. Small wells have been drilled without
announcement, so as not to create illusions. One well is not a field; one
well is not riches: it is more of a pilot project. Once there is a well
[thought not completed] and there is in fact a larger well than the one you
know about, a big well. But we of course are deliberate and zealous in
extracting our oil.

But what I want to say is that this country is a canecutting one, and cane
is harvested on schedule, cold, [word indistinct]. Besides as we have rain
half the year at least, and as a mill is a very expensive investments, we
limit ourselves to harvesting 4 months. In the past and at the expensive of
the people going hungry and paying the kind of salaries they used to and
people without medical attention, without schools and everybody running
around barefoot in the fields. Capitalists could afford that luxury and so
they only cut cane for 3 months because of market restrictions, but we have
to cut cane in December, and when our mills everywhere have a sufficient
supply of cane to grind, none will begin in January, they will all have to
begin in December.

What happens is that the best working months, because of the climate, the
temperature, the weather, the rain, are the months when incredible progress
is made in the soil preparation. The construction of dams progresses
incredibly. The construction of roads progresses incredibly, and tens of
thousands of machines make such progress from November on.

November, December, January, February, March, April, May--and then all
machines are paralyzed. The construction of dam stops. Road construction is
paralyzed. Every kind of construction is paralyzed and the harvest is
paralyzed and only an amphibian tractor can get the cane out of the fields.
That is the real situation. So, when are the best months for harvesting,
for construction? From November to May.

But tradition set this period aside for the holidays. If 24 July had been
set for Christmas even we would be delighted. We would not protest, but
they have imposed the same tradition on the whole world. Then are we
compelled to observe this tradition? Are capitalist circumstances the same
as ours? We can change one or two things, but what I am asking is if when
there is a machine in the field can we interrupt our work in the month of
December? I really honestly ask myself that here. [applause]

And we, some day, some day, we will even have to leave Three King's Day for
July because in reality, children's day in [words indistinct] this
country--the children were born in this country--the day that the
revolution commenced. [applause] In the past, in reality the Three King's
Day was for the rich only while the children of poor families died in towns
and cities of poliomyelitis, gastroenteritis, of tetanus and from all the
sicknesses one could think of and of hunger. Now we have the question of
toys and all the rest. But do not take me for--well, if the "worms" want to
take me for a blasphemous person, that is up to them, let them.

This is reality. We are a revolutionary people and now they are going to
say that we are superdogmatic, that we want to change traditions, no. It is
revolutionaries that we are.

We are revolutionaries and we stand up to anything and we study it. We are
not compelled to believe in anything. We are compelled to think, to reason,
to do what is most convenient for our people and for humanity. This is our
basic duty. [applause] [unison chanting by crowd of: "Fidel, Fidel, Fidel!]

No one should take this as a revolutionary boast that we should mention
July. We just talk about July because July is the best month in which to
think of vacations and holidays. It's the month when the rains come,
machines can't work, the workers cannot work, one cannot work on roads, one
cannot harvest. Nothing can be done. It is hot. One should realize what a
man suffers working during that month as compared with working in December.
Anyone doing physical labor knows which are the best months for work, be it
in the factory or in the cane, the fields, or a construction job.

Anywhere, they know that. Anyone knows that July is very humid, very hot, a
month for beaches or for going to the park, for recreation. We have all the
conditions for this and yet we are not doing it. But we will, with
everybody's cooperation. And then, the month of vacation for the children,
for the parents, the month of rest for everyone, we could have it that
month--in July--and if it is not enough, well we could have a good month
with its 24, 26, 28, 30 days, and twice that if you want it. No one is
against the fiesta, but we have to put things in order. That's no problem
but there would be other changing circumstances, maybe long-term ones. If I
have ever thought of something, but did not completely think it out, it was
simply because I had not seen it clearly at a specific moment.

We are aware that the economy is the concern of the people. It is our
economy, of the people, not of the bigwigs, not of the monopolies, not of
the magnates, it is none of them. They may try to blast us over there,
abroad, but here it is us, it is our factories, our installations. They are
ours, they are for the people. They produce for us and it is necessary to
watch over everything, take care of everything, contribute to our economic
well-being. This is not easy of course. It is a hard, difficult task to
find the mechanisms, create coordination, the cooperation--coordinate the
best manpower efforts. That makes great effort.

There is another problem too that is aggravated as a result and that is the
one that refers to urban reform that we have mentioned. It has to do with
1970 and some are asking themselves, the comrades of the urban reform are
asking themselves: "Well they stopped printing (?rent) receipts?" "How
could you do this?" I asked, "This is a serious economic problem. Well,
what is at stake here? My word, my prestige? Well, that is not the
important thing. That is not the problem. That is not the question." Well
then what is our problem today? Should we adopt that measure? Actually, we
should not adopt that measure. Why? It was clear that (?even) if all the
other circumstances that we discussed earlier on work, productivity, and
wealth, did not exist, we do have a huge surplus of currency in circulation
in the street. [applause]

There is money in the street. There is a lot of excess currency floating
about. [applause] A country cannot go around creating dreams. Wealth is not
established by laws or decrees and we have to distribute what there is. No
decree can order a distribution of that which is nonexistent. More money in
the streets, but for what? To increase the quantity of currency in
circulation? The price of a box of cigars rises and anyone who obtains a
box can exchange it for rice then sells it at a higher price, and we all
encourage the common vice.

The revolution has concerned itself with very important matters, such as
the very important problem of very low retirement pensions--10 pesos and it
has raised them to 60 pesos. There are certain situations in which the
people really have nothing left over. Yes, there are certain situations.
Those in this situation are not the problem; those who have too much money
are. They aggravate the problem with their frantic spending and everything
becomes more difficult.

The ministry has studied a series of cases in which (?monthly) family
income per capita was under 25 pesos. With seven in the family and an
income of less than 25 pesos, there is not enough to pay for fixed
expenses. We believe we should take this situation into account. This would
not be a large sum--approximately 70 or 80 million. This could be a limited
sum, so limited that the person does not become a [incomplete
sentence]--because there are people who buy certain items, then sell them
later. Instead of buying three articles, they could only buy two.

If we acted through the Labor Ministry--not by the means of a [new] law but
as that ministry uses the social security law--to aid such needy persons as
widows, as in the case of a driver who dies without leaving a pension for
his widow.

It would be proposed that the ministry use laws now on the books to
investigate cases of workers whose families have incomes of less than 25
pesos per capita per month. Naturally, this would apply to diligent
workers, not to parasites. The ministry would then, for example, suggest to
the urban reforms organization through the social welfare administration
that these people be exempt from rent payments. [applause]

I think this would be useful. I am happy to say--to know of--your reaction
and support because of your situation regarding this problem. To tell the
truth, I have been pretty worried about this problem. Risquet himself said
to me: "But you must always be saying unpleasant things. Yes, I have to be
constantly spoiling the party. I really would not spoil any worker's
fun--believe that. There may be workers who act in good faith. There are
even conditioned reflexes. I have seen many factories and the problem
surprises me because some comrades have told me so later and I said: "It is
strange that we have talked about so many problems and this one has not
been brought up." But from one day to the next, from the 30th to the 1st,
this problem came to the fore, especially in the interior. I am going to
tell you something about the past.

This harvest is going to be shorter, because the cane has a higher yield.
But the problem is, as I was telling you as though the problem was a matter
of a few days, that when we interrupt our work we do a terrible thing. The
trains are full and bus and railroad stations become hells for travelers.
Many people from the Oriente--everybody has a relative in Havana. The
provinces with the most ties of kinship between them are Havana and
Oriente--everyone travels and the work is not resumed.

That is the problem: Work is not resumed. I do not know if we will ever
have the conditions [words indistinct]. We stop for 3 days, boom, 3 days.
And after 72 hours, everybody, wham, when will we will be able to celebrate
2 January? In the meantime, we do no celebrate it. Do we not want to? Is it
not natural and logical for all the revolutions in the world? Well, we
believe that we will feel calmer, more satisfied, happier if we go to the
canefields that day. That is why we propose that there be no 2 January
celebration either, let us celebrate July instead. In the meantime, we
cannot, because we cannot say: let us stop for 3 days--31st, 1st and
2d--and have everyone back at work at 0600 on the 3d.

The truth is that we have problems of transportation, or organization. We
cannot do it yet. We cannot, and let it be well understood: We believe that
(?some day) when conditions are totally different, we can have a
celebration if you want. That is another matter. It has to do with our
revolution--the day we can stop for 3 days --, and this would not mean the
end of our July celebrations. But right now we are far from being able to
guarantee this, and therein lies the problem. We have had too much
experience with [work] paralysis. We had it. We had it during the July
festivities. Do not think that the festivities ended in July.

A certain amount of cane that had to be planted in the provinces was not.
We have the figures as to what the goals were. And Pinar del Rio had 300
assigned and by 30 November had planted only 86. Havana had 1,565 and had
787 planted on 30 November; Matanzas set a goal of 1,100 and had 500; Las
Villas, 2,500, and 804; Camaguey, 2,250 and 634; and Oriente 3,525 and 927.
The festivities lasted too long, especially in Oriente. The carnivals began
in Santiago.

That is why there is a joke that Santiagueros were partygoers. But as the
carnivals ended in Santiago they began in Manzanillo; and when they were
over in Manzanillo they went on in Bayamo; and when they were over in
Bayamo they went on in Holguin; and when they were over in Holguin they
wound up in Tuna. Do you know when the carnivals were held in Tuna? In
October. Almost 3 months of festivities.

And there was work to be done. Of course it did not involve all the
workers. Signs to be lettered and put up, construction work, work on the
rice program, on sugar cane, loads of things. And some people took part in
the carnivals in Santiago, Manzanillo, Bayamo, Holguin, and Tuna. Poor
people. [laughter] No, not the Santiagueros. [Laughter and shouts from the
audience. A man shouts that he did not take vacations. Cheers and applause]
We have not the slightest doubt about the workers of Hector Pavon
[sugarmill], because they sent you here and you are a fitting
representative of their spirit, but it happened.

And above all, the organization. Where do we have less discipline? In the
fields. There is always more discipline in a factory. It is different in
construction. Regarding agricultural machinery, no [agricultural] worker
has a stronger tradition of discipline than a mechanic--and if there is a
party nearby you know what happens. If there is a sugarcane or rice field
in the way and he hears the sounds of maracas at a distance in Manzanillo,
or Bayamo, everywhere he is infected by the gaiety of those who are going
to the party. That is our reality, that is our experience. Are we going to
close our eyes to that reality?

You will have your vacations, which you are entitled to. We must remember
besides, gentlemen, sugar buys candy and wine, this is fact. We show our
sincerity, courage, and worth in facing problems when we do the things we
have been discussing. Administrations, ministries and public agencies have
a difficult job. The problem is that we must not destroy the work we have

Let us carry out the harvest and hope that what happened last year will not
happen again. Let us hope that no sugar mills, assembly lines, or factories
will stop. Factories stopped work last year. They must not be allowed to
stop. The (?Amansa) factory ceased operations, then the factory that made
all the material for school blackboards. La Salud, La Esperanza, the
Bagasse plants were closed down and the we needed them. (Cassiu Martinez),
which manufactured the outdoor toilets used in the construction industry,
was closed.

We must not close any factory. It is bad for a factory, it is hard to get
it back into operation; the workers get the impression that the factory was
no good, that they are not important to society, and this affects their
morale. We can do several things: Leave factories alone because of their
importance, try to increase their productivity, or increase or reduce their
output. We must not have idle factories.

Every factory has a role. No province can decide that a particular factory
is not important. If a blackboard factory is closed down, the Education
Ministry will be 10,000 blackboards short the next year. And teachers need
blackboards. A factory cannot be closed down. That is really a desperate
measure. Where we have to readjust, we must readjust and think out each
action. It is impossible to set guidelines. This has to be settled among
the workers, the administration, the ministry. Everybody analyzing: What do
we do here? What do we do there? What do we do in this case? And in trust,
all of us must take these problems seriously, we must make them our own.

We are not telling you to do anything we are not in a position to carry out
ourselves. I can tell you in the name of all our comrades that we are ready
to do what we ask of the workers--if possible more, but at least the same.
And all of us, unskilled workers that we are and habitually engaged in
intellectual work, will gladly participate in all the necessary tasks.
[applause]. This is all we had to say to you. Fatherland or death, we shall
win. [applause].