Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Speech at Sewell Rally

Santiago Chile in Spanish to Havana 1823 GMT 24 Nov 71 C--FOR OFFICIAL USE

[Speech by Cuban Prime Minister Castro to miners at rally in Sewell-live
transmitted on special communications channel]

[Text] Dear workers and neighbors of this mine, when we spoke with some
miners we told them that this visit reminds us of the famous fight between
Sullivan and Corbett. I think it was in--well, almost no one remembers it.
But I think the fight lasted 20 or 21 rounds. The difference in our case is
that we are in round (?39). Therefore, if we begin to get cold we can jump
around, because I was told one thing, a person who does not jump is a fool.

In any case, I think I will say a few words to greet you. There is the
ceremony tonight at Rancagua, but it would pain me to come here and witness
this spectacle [words indistinct] of all of you gathered here, and this
inspires one to say a little bit more. Not a long speech, which I was
allowed by the labor leader, but I must express at least our impressions of
this visit, of this [word indistinct], of the kilometers and kilometers
that (?you have traveled), of fabulous wealth drawn from the depths of
these mountains.

This city, which everyone who sees [words indistinct] heroic; this sense,
which is harsh, but splendid; this scene, which is harsh but heroic. It is
very difficult to imagine a panorama such as this. It is difficult to find
mountains totally bare of vegetation, without even a shred of a weed.

We are standing virtually 2,000 meters high in the full range of the Andes,
at 2,000- plus meters altitude. Our own highest peak is only 1,970 meters
high. We have tried to make it reach 2,000 meters, but his is impossible.
We look at this in the morning and in the afternoon, and it brings back to
mind the times when we were fighting in the mountains. We seized Turquino
peak several times--sometimes we were behind the enemy and sometimes he was
behind us.

That mountain, the highest, had steep cliffs, some (?sloping and some
sharp), to cross. Frequently we had an altimeter, and even though our
geographies listed it as 2,000, 2,050 or 2,100, we had a chance to prove
that this was rather chauvinistic, for in Cuba no peak reaches 2,000
meters. We would even joke with young men who came up about piling up
little rocks to see if we actually could reach 2,000 meters.

Anyway, that was our highest peak, and I am told that here we are at
2,000-plus meters. However, around us we can see much higher peaks. As we
look we can see peaks covered with clouds, or that peak covered with clouds
there--they told me the names of those peaks--[chuckling] and no one know
how high they are. It appears to me higher than (?6,000) meters, at least.
Yet I tell you that in our country it would be very hard to imagine this
scene, at which I look, look, and look again. And even if many pictures are
taken it is not the same as seeing it as we are now at this point.

So, then, it is here, amidst this natural setting, this harsh, cliff
region, that you have built a city. You have created a great center of work
which must yield for the country from $150,000 to $200,000 worth of foreign
exchange annually. This, then, is the work you are doing to try to expand
the production of this mine. On our way here we were told that huge
investments had been made previously, but that these have not been able to
increase production. As we were asking questions, a technician was telling
us that the concession had been erroneous. He said the concession, the
erroneous concession, had been the work of a group composed mostly of North

They made the country spend tens of millions of dollars, take on heavy
debts. When the time came to assess the results of this effort, it was
found that you again must conduct surveys, to plan for another converter.
You must again prepare and develop new techniques to be able to raise
production to reach 200,000 tons or to reach 260,000 or 280,000 tons

That is how things went. How the foreign owners toyed with the country's
interests, the country's economy. How they toyed with the workers' sweat,
sacrifice, and blood. How easily they demanded that you invest so many tens
of millions of dollars; how calmly they did this here where 10,000 workers
invest their energy and sweat to create the country's wealth.

These things are certainly painful and sad. This is why one feels a sense
of justice, a sense of fairness, now that all this wealth you are
extracting, which lies in the heart of these peaks--for it is said there is
enough for 120 years, this means that this wealth will go to the fathers,
sons, grandsons, and even the great grandsons of the El Teniente
mineworkers, and this is without even counting the other minerals which may
appear in these mountains.

Whole generations struggled and worked, and a great portion of their
resources, sweat, effort, and sacrifice ended up in the pockets of persons
who never even came within 1,000 miles of Chile--persons who never even
came within 1,000 miles of Chile--persons who were never in these mines,
persons who for decades held shares, and bonds, and every year collected
the dividends drawn from the sweat and effort of the Chilean miners,
persons who never went down into a mine, persons who enjoyed all goods;
persons who live surrounded by lawns and flowers; persons who had not the
slightest idea of these rugged mountains, persons who had not the slightest
idea of (?roads) of 45, 60- degree [as heard] grades, which you (?cover);
persons who had not the slightest idea of what it was to work in the bowels
of the earth, digging tunnels, working in the galleries.

And this was the life of entire generations of workers, of mineworkers, of
your fathers, and even your grandfathers. Moreover, the purpose of this, by
and large, was not to produce the country's wealth and development, not to
bring happiness and prosperity to the Chilean people, but to take out that
wealth to be spent 15,000 km away by person who had nothing to do with the
work, who had not the slightest idea of what work is.

Can such a system be just; can such a procedure be equitable; can such a
human group have a future; can such a exploitation be tolerated; can such a
crime be justified?

As we were going down, viewing these mountains, a carebineros officer with
us explained these lands, these crags, and he related how an avalanche of
dirt and snow had killed 150 persons in this mine in 1945. He noted that
there is more protection now because of the wire mesh that had been put up.
In other words, this effort by generations of workers cost sweat,
sacrifice, and effort. It cost lives and blood--lives and blood, lives lost
operating these machines, working with the explosives, with the trains--the
working accidents. This hostile terrain, the landslides, have cost lives
and taken their toll during work at these heights in the heart of the Andes

Yet the wealth flowed to other lands. The wealth flowed out, let us not say
to other people, but to the egotistical pockets--a product of the sweat and
blood of those who work here. This is why when we see that this wealth has
now come into the hands of the Chileans, when we see our flags--the Chilean
and the Cuban flags--flying over this working camp, we sense that here fly
two flags which have won something, two flags that symbolize something; you
regained your copper and we regained our cane; you regained your nitrate,
and we regained our lands; you regained your iron, gold, silver, and
industries; we regained our nickel, also our iron, and even our small
amount of copper.

For we, too, produce copper--at a mine where we have splendid miners who
often work at depths of 1,500 meters below sea level. And they often work
in intense heat and hard conditions. As we explained at another copper
mine, our mine was shut down for 8 months, almost a year, simply because
the conditions were dangerous, and we were more interested in creating
safety conditions for the workers than in extracting copper.

So, these emblems of our country, these anthems sung here, are the emblems
and the anthems of two peoples who have raised their heads, who have set
the example, who have regained what is theirs, and who have shown the other
brother people the road. It is the workers [interruption by applause] it is
the workers who are the vanguard of change. It is the workers who build
more just societies. It is the workers who constitute the social class most
capable of understanding the need to establish justice, as it is the class
that is exploited day by day [few words indistinct], the veteran class, the
class hardened by struggle, the class disciplined by work.

That vanguard of society today is forging the world of tomorrow. Our
workers, Cuban and Chilean workers, are demonstrating to the workers and
people of the rest of Latin American the road, the real road, the only

On our way here we stopped a few minutes to talk to the workers of (?Fiat),
the 500 workers who came out to the highway. They asked us a few questions
and we explained to them the role of the working class. Among other things,
we told them that other generations worked for decades without the
privilege of saying, "we are working for tomorrow, we are working for the

They were simply exploited. And we said that there was a conflict between
the present and the future. The workers today are working for the future.
Someone said once--I do not know if it was during the commune of
Paris--that the workers wanted to take the heavens by storm. These were
beautiful words to explain how the workers wanted to conquer their future.
Now then, no heaven is truly taken by storm. No heaven is taken by storm
because the heavens do not exist. In order to have a heaven, one must
create it. In other words, this heaven--giving the word the social meaning,
the meaning of riches, the welfare meaning--does not exist.

Imperialism did not leave us a heaven. It was hell: the hell of the poor,
of ignorance, poverty, of needs; the hell of underdevelopment. What the
workers can conquer is not heaven, but the opportunity to begin building a
future. Other generations, the children, your children's children, and each
new generation will have the opportunity to struggle, to grow, to learn,
and to live in a different way. This generation of workers did not have the
possibility to enjoy that future which is yet to be made.

This generation had the privilege, yes, the privilege of living his hour,
the privilege of struggling, the privilege of working, and the privilege of
building that future, and we say privilege because other generations of
workers who struggled and worked very hard did not have even this
privilege. But you have been left with the full privilege to struggle, you
have been left with the privilege of struggling under moral conditions much
more advanced. You have been left with the privilege of struggling under
decent conditions. You have been left with the privilege of struggling with
the maximum of dignity with which a human being can struggle.

It is no longer a foreign master, it is no longer a powerful man who gives
orders and abuses us, humiliates us, and shakes our hands while he exploits
us. [applause] Not only do the workers of this generation have to make
history, but they must do so with their hands high and with dignity,
knowing they are the masters of their own destinies. That is why we told
the representatives of the CUTCh workers yesterday that we were impressed
by the movement you are carrying out, the production committees, the
election by the workers themselves of the production committees, the
participation of the workers in the management of the companies and the
production units.

This establishes a double duty: the best must be selected among the worker
mass, but the mass of workers also have another duty of higher
conscience--to require that those elected to be demanding. Do not elect
those who because they are very kind and gentle will tolerate indiscipline
and neglect duty and production. Do not elect those who try to persuade
others with sweet words. Instead, elect the honest man, the honest man who
has a feeling for duty, a man that you choose not to promote indiscipline,
or to neglect production, but to maintain discipline, promote production,
and be a worthy representative of the workers and the management, of the
production centers, of the leaders the workers appoint to direct them in a
better way than did the leaders who headed the foreign companies.

The foreign companies sought [words indistinct]. They chose the most
clever, the least scrupulous, the most hyprocritical, and at times those
who were capable of killing someone in order to obtain a favor. Today the
workers must choose and elect the best, the most able, the most honest, the
most firm, those who are able to understand their spirit, who are capable
of leading and making the production centers work better than the
imperialists or the monopolists could.

Because there is a contradiction--the fundamental contradiction between the
workers and the owners, this cruel separation between the owners who
receive everything and those who do not own anything and have to give all.
Now your leaders, your representatives, and the administrators appointed by
the state--that is to say appointed by the Popular Unity government--do not
represent an interest different from that of the workers. They represent
the country's interest, Chile's interest, and the future and possibilities
of progress of Chile. The workers have the great honor, the great privilege
of working under these conditions, which bring about a moral benefit.

How different is feeling like an owner from feeling like a servant. How
different is feeling like an owner from feeling like a servant in this rich
country. How different is feeling that you are working for the country from
feeling you are working for foreign owners, for stockholders in New York
who get a profit without having any idea what work is. That is why we have
seen in the work centers, which are now owned by the country, the happiness
of the workers, the enthusiasm of the workers. We can understand this.

We are telling some workers whom we saw in the subway [in the mine] how
happy and glad we were to work with the workers, to meet with the workers,
to talk with the workers. How much communications and feeling occurred, and
how happy we were to visit the workers centers. That is why we said, and we
said many times, that during our time here, the hours did not matter, and
rest did not matter. We wanted to have the maximum opportunity to visit the
working centers, to see the workers, and to talk with them. We told the
representatives of the CUTCh workers yesterday that this work is your work,
that this revolutionary process is your work, that this child is your
daughter, because the revolution can only be the daughter of the working
class, which leads it.

A union with the other sectors of society must be sought, a union with the
peasants, with the students, and with the intellectual workers. You must
seek the broadest union within the country in order to be strong and to
carry out the program--and this child is your daughter. Do no expect the
obligarchs, do no expect the reactionaries to defend the child. The
reactionaries, the oligarchs, and the imperialists will try to harm the
child, and they will try to kill the child. Do not expect the oligarchs and
the reactionaries to sacrifice themselves for the child. Only the real
parents are capable of sacrificing themselves for their children.

Do not forget this and confuse the transitory present with the future. You
are working for the future. Do not confuse the beginning with the final
goals. You are just beginning. You have a child who is a daughter of the
working class. It is you who have to take care of her. You are the only
ones who can sacrifice for her; do not expect others to sacrifice
themselves. They will try to hinder progress with all means. They will try
to prevent work by all means.

We can tell the Chilean workers the same thing that we tell the Cuban
workers; the revolution is the daughter of the working class. Take care of
the revolution, strengthen it, make it progress, because the workers are
not only the pillar of the economy, the workers are not only the pillar of
production, the workers are not only the vanguard who must watch over this
process and support it economically, it is they who must make the necessary
sacrifices. We have been called to lead this process and to defend it with
our sweat and strength under any circumstance. This is the task of the
revolutionary working class. [applause]

The future is yours. You do not have to fear the demagogs. You do not have
to fear the hypocrites. You do not have to fear the liars. The workers have
truth and honesty in their hearts. The workers know when they are being
told the truth. The workers know the men who speak honestly to them. The
workers know who is really defending their future. That is why, without any
fear, sincerity always, truth always, and trust always. The revolutionary
working class will not be deceived by its enemies of any class, no matter
how they are disguised. The working class will not be deceived by the
demagogs, nor the liars. The truth in their hearts will guide the working
class and make them see clear, make progress, and carry out their historic
role to build a better world, to build a human society which is really

That is what we can tell you with all our hearts, in the name of our
country and people, in the name of our revolution, and in the name of the
interests of not only Chile and Cuba, but of all our peoples--for whom we
have the duty to fight, in the name of the interests of the workers of
Latin America, in the name of the peoples of Latin America. This is the
word we can bring you. This is the feeling we can bring you. This is the
message that in the name of revolutionary workers and the Cuban revolution
we can bring you. Thank you. [applause and viva Castro]