Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Speech in Huachipato

Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 0130 GMT 18 Nov 71 F/C

[Speech by Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro to workers of the Pacific
steel mill in Huachipato--recorded]

[Text] Dear workers of the Huachipato steel mill--it looks like a little
pisco [native Chilean alcoholic drink] I regret I did not have as much time
as I wished to tour the mill. We were only able to see Hill No. 2, later
the Marti [words indistinct]. We were unable to get to the sheet-rolling
mill, or the maintenance shop, which we virtually did not see at all.

This is the result of our eagerness. We wanted to see many things in such a
short time. This happened to me this afternoon. There are so few
opportunities to see a mill like this, yet we were able to spend just a few
minutes. I have had no chance to chat with the workers, though I had
thought of having a long talk with them.

In any event I was able to appraise the level of production this mill has
reached, an idea of what the production consists of and also about plans to
expand this steel mill. Despite dismay at not having been able to see it
all, I leave sad and disappointed because we are not going to be able to
buy even a square meter of tin plate [plate for manufacturing tins] from
you. I had thought: We will be a client of Huachipato. But no. It seems
that Huachipato output does not cover national consumption.

Even when output reaches 1 million tons, this will still fail to meet
national needs. So there is no chance for us to buy even a kilogram of
steel from Huachipato. But the mill is highly important to your country.

Yesterday, at the Iquique fishing port, I encountered one of the fishing
industry's problems--there is a shortage of tin plate. For when their
output increases 50, 60, or 80 [presumably canning percentage increase]
they will have to use more tin plate. You have seen the pretty tuna cans
that come from Iquique. Undoubtedly you have one of them around here.

Well, about 1 escudo is spent for tin plate, yet this only goes for fish.
Think now of all the hundreds of canned products that require tin
plate--condensed milk, and all kinds of foodstuffs. Of course up there they
had tin plate imported from the United States--a large proportion of it for
canning fish. And this comes finely printed.

The fact is you still lack the technology for such printing. But we saw the
cans, and some are made from Huachipato tin plate. They are not so
artistically printed, but they solve the problem perfectly. And, they are
not printed. Printed paper labels are used around the can, but I have no
doubt that some day you will master the technique--this is not pressing in
the least--some day you will master the technique and turn out printed tin
plate and everything, when you find it convenient for presenting the

There, too, we discerned the problems of underdevelopment. The country must
make big outlays in foreign exchange. We realize the situation brought
about by the drop in the price of copper, the problem of the foreign debt.
And the thought occurs that every time production rises in that industry,
it requires foreign exchange outlays for products which Chile does not

However, even though you have shortages, compared to us you are in a
privileged position regarding steel. We have nothing that compares with
this mill. Neither the imperialists nor the capitalists left us anything
like this. So you have been lucky. They did not leave even a square inch of
tin plate, not even a square inch of tin plate, nor even a square inch of
sheet steel of any kind.

After the revolution we were able to begin to install certain blast
furnaces like your Section 2 working with imported iron and scrap iron.

To have scrap iron one has to have had other things--equipment, machinery,
processed steel. We produce pig iron, steel bars, and corrugated steel for
construction. It is the only thing we have been able to do so far. We are
also planning a new steel mill. Our micro iron and steel industry will
produce some 300,000 tons of pig iron. It will be devoted basically to the
construction of steel for construction, corrugated steel, and also highly
flexible steel for the construction of prefabricated buildings. This is,
for the time being, everything we are planning.

Now is our country the additional work to complete the furnaces and to
establish the mill to produce wire rods is in progress. In addition to the
wire rods, there is another process which we have not yet solved.

As you know, we now have, truthfully, the problem of the resources with
which to buy some of this technology, for example, since the revolution has
anything like a blast furnace been built? No. Korea is cooperating with us
regarding a type of furnace which will allow us to produce a certain
quantity of pig iron, or rather a product called semisteel, using our ore
and thereby saving scrap iron. That is to say, it replaces scrap iron
partly by the production of carbon steel in [words indistinct]. These are
our most immediate prospects in the iron and steel industry and we fully
realize what steel production means for the country.

But, unfortunately, we do not have coal. Our iron is not in (?exploitable)
form. It requires special processing. We do not have blast furnaces nor
rolling equipment. When we must make anything in our country--a cart, a
hand cart, anything--everything must be imported. Everything, of all gages,
from sheet metal to various sizes of steel.

The factory operations chief told me they made a great number, a great
variety of different steels in your production here. We have to import
everything. It is necessary whenever we need something, and we have to use
seven or eight different kinds of sheet plate. [sentence indistinct] We
lack this, we lack that. Today one cannot conceive of development without
steel. It is the same for building, for making molds, machinery,
agricultural equipment, anything. Steel is necessary.

We shall [word indistinct] some other foundries in electric ovens for
production of replacement parts for the sugar mills. But neither are we a
country which has, for instance, a great deal of hydraulic energy.
Countries like Sweden, having great quantities of hydraulic energy and
hence great quantities of cheap electrical energy, have been able to devote
their attention to special steels. Our country has some mineral resources.
For instance, we have abundant iron in the form of [word indistinct], in
the form of oxide, we do not have much, but we have some. We have nickel
and we represent the foremost world reserve of nickel. We have chrome mixed
with the nickel, so that in the nickel there is first nickel, then iron,
chrome, aluminum, and cobalt. We also have other mixed minerals. We have
not been able to exploit all these because our country does not have the
necessary conditions-- in any case, having the essential raw material, the
production, for instance, of special steels--you need a tank in the milk
industry, in the food industry; to transport beer, (?we have seen that)
beer is transported here in bottles, but some is carried in tanks for
distribution. Much stainless steel is needed. Stainless steel is composed
basically of chrome and nickel, then iron, and these minerals abound in our

Undoubtedly, as our countries' economies develop and integrate, we shall
have the possibility of real development. When we asked whether (?railway
tracks) were not produced, they said, well, this would call for a big
investment and Chile's need for then would not justify the establishment of
[words indistinct] so that our countries, every time they need them, have
to obtain them in Europe, Japan, or the United States. This is our
countries' situation of not having an outlet nor sufficient markets to
establish really modern, big-scale industries.

I also asked them, how much are you producing per man? They told me: Well,
we are producing 108 tons of steel per man. I asked them how much was being
produced in the United States. Well, according to the degree of
specialization attained, some U.S. industries produce up to 300 tons of
steel per capita. I asked how much does Japan produce per capita. [sentence
indistinct] Imagine the disadvantage of our countries. While the country
which technically is behind, the poorest country producing 100 or 108 tons
per capita, the developed nation, the richest country produces four or five
times more per capita per year. You see the difference; the difference is
so great between the developed nations and the countries which have
remained backward, or which have been left behind [Castro repeats the
phrase and light applause follows] because politics can take away our
minerals. (?Cheap raw material is removed, then they sell us) expensive
manufactured goods. This has been the policy in Latin America which also
keeps us divided so that we will always be weak, so that we can never
really hold a decent place in this world.

This is the true situation, in clear and simple words. And we are beginning
from almost nothing. But it moves us to see that the brother nation of
Chile at least produces 108 tons per capita; it has an industry expansion
plans, and it does not have to import all the sheet metal it needs, nor
does it have to import much of the steel it needs, and in the future it
will not have to import the sheet metal it needs for its food industry.
This encourages us.

When we visited the Chuquicamata mines, the machinery there was being
(?removed). We thought, how will the Chileans manage? They are having the
same kind of problems we had; when they suddenly blockaded us, they
(?removed) machinery and everything. But if one has a steel industry, if
one has good machine shops, the immense majority of the components of that
copper industry, nothing and no one can stop the copper industry (?by the
application of economic measures) against Chile.

We have been told they have magnificent skilled workers in the machine
industry. They explained to us that many of the components of the copper
industry are manufactured here. If some of the big pieces, the heavy
pieces--of course, when they must be transported--the huge trucks must be
imported. Even the tires must be imported, although they are thinking of
producing the tires, to save about $1.5 million. The big crane has to be
bought, because imagine small countries which need three cranes a year? How
can they develop industry [words indistinct] from those who have big
industry and who sell it dearly. [sentences indistinct] Even though it is
in crisis, the dollar must be taken as a measure.

We said that machines cost $1 million, naturally, with what they charge the
country-- shipping and all; it turns out that these things do not cost that
much--just add up the steel used in the work, which is real--and they send
us much of that machinery to our countries at monopolist prices.

In top of all that, if they get angry they threaten not to send us the
spare parts. It is a tremendous misfortune to have to stand for all that.
That is why when we speak of revolution, when we talk of independence, when
we talk of patriotism, we mean not just the elemental issue of social
justice. For man has grown sufficiently to realize that the exploitation of
man by man must cease.

We refer to the attitude, the possibility of a nation's being able to live,
and living, dependent to mercy, without any security, exposed to all kinds
of aggressions. There lies the importance of the development of countries,
the importance of steel production, the importance of the union of our
peoples, the importance of the union of our countries. For we live
[interrupts thought] they can harm us; they harm us a great deal, and they
try to smash us, though they cannot--for they have been unable to smash
Cuba, which stands alone. [applause]

But is must naturally be stated that we were not smashed because we
received tremendous help from the socialist camp, particularly the USSR.
For when we ran out of oil, when we lacked everything, it supported us, and
it allowed us to resist the most criminal blockade ever imposed on a

The fact is we did not produce even a liter of petroleum, practically
speaking, not a liter; moreover, we consumed 4 million and we had been
receiving it all from the United States, which brought our sugar. But
suddenly they took away the sugar market, and the same occurred with oil.

You can realize that a country cannot live without a liter of oil. It would
be a throwback to the era of the mule, the horse--I would believe not even
the bicycle. If they take away oil you cannot even ride a bike. We were
headed back to the time of the two-wheel car, the horse and buggy, and the
[word indistinct]--they actually wanted to cut us down to that.

Why? Because it was a small country. [They thought] it is a small country;
what does it matter; let us take away all its chaotic situation there so
everyone who is fainthearted, who is not patriotic enough, will leave
there. For imperialism always leans on a lack of patriotism. It sows
discontent, the illusion of a consuming society.

Imperialism sows all those things to work on men's feelings, to erode their
patriotism. And why? To do away with resistance to its penetration,
resistance to the great monopolist interests. That tells all what they did
to this--all this.

Nonetheless, we are certain that the day our people get together,
understand each other, unite, cooperate, and struggle jointly--and of
course that is a path to be taken from morning to night, it is a arduous,
long, difficult path. Much awareness yet needs to be developed. There must
be more understanding, and much more [word indistinct] for our countries to
be stronger.

They will have a real right to live in the world of tomorrow. Our
forefathers began to struggle for independence more than 150 years ago. The
road we have had to travel has been long; A long history of outrages,
abuses, interventions, and all kinds of exploitation.

It was a long road, but we think things are beginning to straighten out. We
believe in recent years, the continent has veered greatly historically. The
moment the Cuban revolution broke out was the moment a country began to
shake off the imperialist yoke from above--a real shaking off.

The yoke was shaken off so violently that not a trace of it remained. That
is the truth. You have been more cautious, more careful--but beware of the
fox. The fox wants to replace aggressiveness and ferocity with astuteness,
right? It tries to do that, but they poured out all their ire against us.
They unleashed their fury against us.

But truthfully, what did they obtain? Nothing. They even tried to separate
us from our friends, the Chileans. And what did they get? Nothing. And
there has been something very valuable with Chile--the Chilean people's
attitude toward us. It is true that we have suffered, that we have deeply
felt the aggressions, the injustices, and the persecutions of imperialism
and we are still suffering them. Yet we find that our brothers, the brother
Chileans--over and above all the campaigns of lies and slander, the
incredible things with which they strived to warp the image of the
revolution--(?do not know about) Cuba's problems.

How could Cuba not have problems? If an elephant falls on an ant, logically
the ant could face certain problems. [applause] If an elephant has his foot
on an ant the ant cannot move; it cannot crawl with a foot over it.
Understand? That is the wicked weight of imperialism we have borne. That is
the truth and the lie: [Imperialism thought] that ant is bad; we must keep
our foot on it, but my foot is not big enough. More elephants come to put
their feet on this ant; or even better, let more ants put their feet on
this ant.

That was what they told the Latin American countries. Come also and put
your feet on Cuba; nevertheless, what has this meeting of all the countries
shown over so many years? There are things which are stronger than the lie,
much stronger than injustice, something much more solid than all this
shame. And this is the feeling of the people, the instinct of the people.

For if it is asked why the Chileans show such support for Cuba, could it be
because they had received tons upon tons of propaganda? No, they received
tons upon tons of propaganda against Cuba. And what happened? We have it
before us: The instinct, that current, which joins people together.

That is what worked the miracle of the Chileans attitude toward Cuba. That
was what worked the miracle we saw this afternoon--that incredible human
mass, that human anthill. And not even an elephant could step on that

We wondered where so many people had come from, but it was the miracle of
the instinct, the communication between our people. This is why we are so
moved, not just because of the persons gathered here--men die; cities,
ideas, and history endure.

We did not feel personally worthy of all these honors, though we felt like
representatives of a country that has fought, representatives of a
revolutionary cause and flag. And it is in the name of that revolutionary
country, that cause, and that flag, that we express to you Chileans, you,
and you here, the steel workers, our most heartfelt, sincerest thanks, our
most fervent thanks.