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More on Rio Verde Tour

Havana PRESNA LATINA in English 2025 GMT 23 Nov 71 C--FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

[Text] Punta Arenas, Chile, 23 Nov (PL)--by Pedro Lobaina--Fidel Castro
told workers of Rio Verde, over 100 kilometers north of this city, about
the first expropriations in Cuba under the agrarian reform law. Accompanied
by General Manuel Torres, commanding officer of the 50th army division and
intendant of Magallanes Province, the Cuban Prime Minister watched three
expert shearers shearing sheep, and was welcomed by a local folklore group
that performed the Cueca, a traditional Chilean dance.

Throughout the journey from Punta Arenas to Rio Verde, Castro stopped to
greet inhabitants of the barren Patagonian Steppes who gathered to see him.

Rio Verde was owned until last April by a British citizen who spent just 3
months a year--the shearing season--at the estate. Local people told PRESNA
LATINA that the owner had sold large numbers of beef cattle and sheep
before the exploration. Such practices have caused meat shortages in

Now, workers of states about to be expropriated organize committees to
prevent the owners from damaging their properties.

As Fidel Castro sheared a lamb, he cut his finger slightly. Then, the
visitor ate an abundant grill prepared by the local workers in a shearing

In a brief speech, Fidel Castro declared that he was deeply moved and
pleased to see the workers now in charge of production and living in the
houses of the former administrators.

The Cuban leader indicated the need to increase production now that the
estate has more workers. He said it is better to have few resources at the
start than to misuse large resources. At times, he added, the desire to do
things too quickly is self defeating.

"I say these things to you because we've been through these experiences and
struggles, these tremendous structural changes, these circumstances in
which the means of production are transferred to the people. People need to
make a great effort to learn, to become aware of the need for
responsibility, to save, to struggle to increase production. Otherwise,
years can be lost."

Fidel Castro praised the fact that the workers elect their leaders on the
estate, but recommended that they watch closely to make sure how those
chosen carried out their responsibilities.

Fidel Castro said that his visit to Punta Arenas and the first agrarian
reform zone he had seen in Chile reminded him of the first years of the
Cuban revolution. "As you see, I haven't come to teach anything, on the
contrary I'm here with a self-critical attitude to tell you about our
mistakes and experiences in the hope that they may be of use to you," he

At the end of his brief speech, as in previous appearances, the leader of
the Cuban revolution expressed optimism because of the quality of the
people he had spoken with, and of the Chileans in general, and wished them
success in their work.

The following morning, Castro visited the "Lanera Austral" (Far Southern
Wool Company) which is now managed by a council of state-appointed
officials and an equal number of workers.

Fidel Castro and his party spoke with the 180 workers who grade, wash and
comb the wool produced on the region's ranches.

At present Lanera Austral produces close to 70 tons of combined wool and
about 85 of acrylic fibre. The wool is sold to Chilean textile plants. The
workers told Castro that the wool installations were practically unused
since the former owners decided to switch to artificial fibres.

"With the wool right here, that was really absurd," declared one of the
local union leaders.

By sending the raw wool abroad, the zone was deprived of a source of
employment that could easily have been developed.

At present a management council (five state appointees and five elected by
the workers) decides policy. There is also a state-appointed manager.
Despite problems with machinery and replacement parts, the workers told the
Cuban Prime Minister that they will soon produce 3,000 kilos a day of
combed wool. The government's textile committee is now studying the
possibility of providing Lanera Austral with the equipment needed to
process the wool on the premises.