Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Dialog With Punta Arenas Students

Santiago Chile Domestic Service in Spanish 2300 GMT 24 Nov 71 P

[Fidel Castro's dialog with the students of the State Technical University
of Chile at Punta Arenas on 22 November--recorded]

[Summary] [Castro] How many students are from this region?

[Unidentified student] About 70 percent.

[Castro] "And the other 30 percent?"

[Student] From the rest of the country.

[Castro] "Why did they come here?"

[Student] Because this is the only university in the country that offers
petrochemical training.

[Castro] "In your opinion, what are the prospects for the region?"

[Student] This region already is important to the revolution.

[Castro] "Do you already have any ideas on how to develop the region and
what its importance is to the country? Are there any students waiting to
graduate and then go to the North?"

[Student] We hope not, because this region has a great industrial future.
Those of us who are studying here must work here to realize this future.

[Castro] "I want to say something. In our country we already are moving
toward a combination of study and work from grade school on. The aspiration
of every worker there is to a student. [passage indistinct] In 1959 and
1960 we had not even thought of it, and even if we had we would not have
mentioned it, because nobody would have understood it then. We are now
working so that in the next 10 years we will have a half million high
school students who will be systematically working 3 hours a day. Our
experience shows that the schools with a work and study system produce
better students. [words indistinct]

"The only way to make everyone study is to have everyone working.
Otherwise, it cannot be done economically, and we would be faced with the
unpleasant situation in which only 20 percent of the youth could study,
while the other 80 percent could not. They would be condemned to
illiteracy. [Words indistinct] We believe that the man who only does manual
work become more ignorant and the man who only does intellectual work
becomes warped. [words indistinct] Our idea is that some day the entire
society may partake in both manual and intellectual work.

"In our society today knowledge is the privilege of a minority, where a
doctor or an engineer becomes a sort of witch doctor of a tribe. In a town
of 10,000 inhabitants, the physician becomes the witch doctor of the tribe,
for he is the one who gives our a pill and cures an ailment. What we want
to know is what would happen in a society where all men have knowledge. We
do not know if such a society will be difficult or easy, because when a
group of wise men meet to discuss something, it becomes more difficult to
reach an agreement. [Words indistinct] we believe that in the future
societies all will participate in the creation of the material wealth.
[Words indistinct] the latest technical achievements with men going to the
moon. Those who had the least to do with the trip to the men were those who
went to the moon. They simply were willing to travel in the spacecraft. If
volunteers had been requested there would have been tens of millions of

"The average lifespan may increase to 50, 60, 70, or even 80, 90--who knows
how far it may go? It will not matter if a youth participating in the
development of goods production man needs takes 1, 2 or 3 more years.
Today, of course, circumstances oblige us to accelerate. For instance,
today we have students who begin teacher training in the sixth grade.

"Our policy is directed toward a solid, basic, general education, as well
as specialization, but all this within the concept of universal study and
universal work. These are the ideas we are developing, and they are already
being implemented. In this connection, the university plays a decisive
role. We have our universities participating in all the activities of
development of the country. We have our universities participating in
important research centers and in development programs, using students and

"We have been observing this process and this situation in which the
universities are playing a very important role and are participating in all
the development activities of the country. We hope that someday you will
also play this role as the Chilean process advances." [applause]

[Student] In the first place, the students, because of a lack of awareness
of their participation in production, do not at present have the training
to fully participate in activities, either in the province or in the
university. In other words, they have to participate as persons with all
their resources. They go to college to learn so that they can later use
their knowledge to help the country advance and to cooperate with
production, as you have said. They come to study with human ideals.

[Castro] "I am going to repeat what you said, especially the first part in
which you said--I probably did not fully understand the idea--but you said
that there is still insufficient awareness in this state technical
university. There have been voluntary work periods during vacations, with
all the students participating in production centers to increase
production, because this is a way of making the revolution succeed. The
problem, however, is that the students do not participate. They have to be
pushed into participating, into discovering all the possibilities of a new
world. Our students did not have this awareness, and they did not acquire
it overnight. There was patriotism, however, There was a great willingness
to struggle to defend the revolution in the event of a possible invasion.
Everyone was mobilized and trained. Everyone asked for a weapon. Their
patriotism and support for the revolution were demonstrated, although not
in the field of research, of work.

"I do want to say this: it was easier to accomplish things in Cuba than in
Chile because in Chile the process is more tedious, more complicated,
because the factors that permitted the revolution in the moment of triumph
to adopt the measures, the process [words indistinct]. With the overthrow
of the Batista regime, everything toppled, including (?Batista's) methods
and virtually the complete system of society. A revolutionary power was
formed, and we had many facilities to [words indistinct]. These are not the
circumstances in Chile.

"In Chile the process is developing under circumstances that require
planning to overcome a series of obstacles. If we analyze it from this
viewpoint, we see that there is great merit in the measures adopted under
these circumstances in Chile. Therefore, we cannot make comparisons,
because there are different circumstances. It was much easier for us to
adopt measures. For Chile it is much more difficult. The obstacles are
greater. The circumstances are also very different. If we analyze the
obstacles the Chilean process has faced, I would sincerely say that much
has been done. To nationalize copper, for example, is a great measure. And
such measures have been accomplished. I see that there are many
enterprises, many factories that are now state owned.

"In Magallanes, for instance, I saw things that happen only in a
revolutionary process. The workers were managing the production of wool and
meat. I saw workers administering this production. I saw six families
living in the home of the former owner. We saw the great enthusiasm of the
workers and their optimism about the future. In short, we saw things that
we had also seen in our country when we carried out our agrarian law. I
have seen the length and breadth of the country, and in all the areas
visited-- coal mines, in to me where there is an industry that today
belongs to the workers, and we were with the saltpeter and copper workers,
and in different other sectors--and everywhere we went we saw the great
enthusiasm of the workers, their satisfaction, their pride and optimism.
They are truly participating in the matter of managing these factories, and
they are gaining the awareness that is acquired only when there is a
structural change--the transformation of these fundamental industries from
private property into state property. I tell you frankly that I was amazed
that this was carried out under the conditions in which it had to be done.
We have to admire what others are capable of doing. We faced different
circumstances and had no alternative but to struggle. And we struggled.
Then we had to defend ourselves against imperialism and hard and difficult
conditions. I think this, our resistance and survival, is a historic
achievement of our people.

"We would not be honest if we gave ourselves all the credit. We have
benefitted from a most extraordinary solidarity from abroad. Naturally,
foreign solidarity has not come from capitalist countries. Solidarity is
peculiar to the socialist camp; it is a revolutionary instinct." [applause]

"Now, to answer your question, I will tell you that I am amazed at what has
been done in Chile and at how rapidly it has been done, despite the
difficulties encountered in the process of change. And if we look at it
from this angle, it would be correct to say that in this first year more
has been done in Chile than was done in Cuba." [applause]

Now, concerning exchanges, I think we can carry out all the exchanges you
wish. Actually, I think we could start by exchanging Cuban experiences with
students from this technical university of Punta Arenas. We would be very
glad to do this. I think the university authorities and the student leaders
could very well coordinate this exchange. You should plan what you can
exchange with us, and we will see what we can prepare for you, see how we
can work this out. Much can be done. "Besides, you must bear in mind that
we over there are at the other extreme. I find Cuba and Magallanes to be
the opposite poles of Latin America. You are the land of the Southern Pole,
and we can be called the land of the Northern Pole." [applause]

You also asked me if Cuba would become a world power in sports. We must put
an end to professionalism. When professionalism ended in Cuba, we had the
highest spirit, the highest morale among the players. "Sports forms part of
the culture of a country. We say it is not a means but a goal, for it has
to do with health, with man, his happiness, his needs." And then, we see
that we defeat the United States in many sports. We beat them in baseball.
They invented volleyball, and we defeated them in this, too. The same thing
happened in basketball! In many sports events the United States has sent
its best athletes, yet we have defeated them. The reason is that our
players are strongly motivated by the revolutionary spirit.

Our country is a country that has experienced many problems, many
difficulties. In Guantanamo there are 800,000 men [as heard]. "They are in
Guantanamo because we have not been able to take it away from the
Americans. This was imposed on us when we completed our war of
independence." They like to intervene when there is disorder. When there is
a situation in which the people are not in control of their fate, when
there is an attempt at change, when there is disorder, then they intervene.
That is what had done great moral damage to our fatherland. Patriotism is
the greatest force a country has; it is the triumph of a revolution. In the
United States, the people enjoy the highest standard of living in the
world. The people there are willing to do anything to maintain their
standard of living. Yet, they uphold material goods, and not moral values.