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Text of Rio Verde Speech

Santiago Chile PRESNA LATINA in Spanish to PRESNA LATINA Havana 1756 GMT 24

[Text] Santiago, Chile, Chile, 23 Nov--Following is the text of the speech
by Maj Fidel Castro, first secretary of Cuba's Communist Party and prime
minister of the Revolutionary Government, at the Rio Verde sheep center 21
November 1971, in Magallanes Province of Chile:

Dear friends: A sheep or a steer barbecue, a splendid table such as this
one, red and white wine, and so many nice things as we see here may not be
the best atmosphere for speeches. I am not going to make any speech, of
course, I am going to answer Sergio (Ampuero's) affectionate words. He has
a tremendous problem: Ever since I have been talking with him, since I met
him, he has been showing me everything: the sheep, other things, the dogs,
the machines, the shorthorns, the cows, and I tell him: Sergio, you have
got yourself in some jam; you have got yourself in some jam.

He then took me to the house where a manager used to live, presently
occupied by two families of workers who are now managing everything. That
is a palace. Then we were taken to the house that used to belong to the
owner. I did not dare to enter, not because of the time factor, but because
if the manager's house I had already seen was a palace, I would not dare to
enter this one. And he told me: six worker families live here now. We then
saw the gardens, the trees; that was really pretty, and I told him: Sergio,
what are you going to do to take care of this? Do you believe that in 5
years' time when we come back this way, that everything is going to be
taken care of, will the plants be well taken care of? How many used to work
here? Only 11, but now there are 20. I told him: Sergio, if you now have 20
workers, you will have to increase production of wool and meat, because
otherwise you will have twice as many persons working here but continue to
produce the same amount of wool as before.

Anyway, he said: No, because look, Comrade Fidel, we are struggling here;
we are going to do the same thing you did. I told him: No, Sergio, No. Do
not do the same thing we did. You must do it better than we did, I warn
you. Really, I had a good impression.

When someone arrives at a place like this one and sees what we have seen
today, he can feel really happy, moved, because there is this wonderful
phenomena of the process of social demands, where you find the workers, the
humble workers, directing production, concerned, living in the houses
previously used by the managers, living in small places. Imagine six
families living in that small palace. You hear them speak with happiness
when they say: well, we could not enter; if the manager was in a good mood,
we were invited in; if not, we were kicked out.

Sergio had spent many years in that center and remembered all those
humiliations, all that grief, all that impotency, all that lack of future,
and all that lack of past happy times.

I asked him: Well, could not this great house become a school? He
answered:No, because we are thinking of building a school at a place where
we have more ranches, in addition to the lumber center--that is, they are
thinking about the future, tomorrow, their children, in the school, but the
workers of this center should participate in its construction.

Really, this time, this revival, this awakening that we can see around here
is very moving. It really is a human awakening, a change in which life
becomes completely different. This is what we have seen here. But at the
same time, this great change and these ideas, like births, do not happen
without pain, do not happen without difficulties, do not happen without
obstacles, because there are matters which are essential for the country,
for the working class, for the workers, for everyone. The essential thing
is to really outline a perspective of what the future should be with a
clear conscience of what your duty should be today when you have assumed
control of those flocks, those herds, and those machines, and when you have
assumed control of the means of production.

The flocks look like they are a good breed. We do not know much about
sheep, but I can tell you that we made some tests in our country and
purchased some animals of different breeds which were awarded prizes in
fairs, and I can tell you that these flocks have no reason to envy the best
animals we have seen, animals which have been awarded prizes at fairs in
our country. So they are fine-quality animals.

We must constantly strive to improve the quality of breeds by selection,
separating the best, and continue the progressive work in search of
quality. We must do the same with beef cattle, with dairy cattle, with the
installations, with the machines; those machines there must be taken care
of. I tell you this because during our first years, our people did not know
how to handle machines, and I hope you never have to experience the errors
committed in our country. I hope you do not have to experience the
irresponsibilities which were committed in our country.

When the revolution triumphed, we had 5,000 tractors. I want you to know
what we have brought into the country more than 50,000 tractors. We did not
bring automobiles but we brought tractors, because tractors can be used for
anything. If we needed water, the tractor was sent to get water. If on
short notice we had to transport people to a baseball game, we would send
the tractor to haul a cart and take them. Perhaps we had problems with the
carburetor or the starter, and while they were playing baseball the tractor
was running, using fuel, using everything, using the tires, using spare

But the moment came that we had more and more tractors and we had a certain
abundance of machines. We had so many people who had to work with a plow,
who always had to work with many difficulties, who used the tractor for
almost everything, let us say, even to visit their girlfriends, (laughter)
used the tractors even to visit their girlfriends.

I am telling you this because we have lived through that experience and we
had to work hard to establish discipline, maintain the work discipline,
maintain the organization, improve it. Take care of those herds, take care
of the installations, take care of those machines, and I am going to tell
you the truth: it is better not to have too many resources. I am sure that
if you had excess resources, the first thing you would do is squander those
resources to some extent. If the day should come when instead of having two
tractors, you had 15 tractors with rubber tires, if the day should come
when instead of having one rotary disc and harrow, you had 10, it is almost
certain that if it broke down, you would not grease it, you would take
parts from it, cannibalize it, put its parts in another, and so forth.

Many times, the ambition to do a great deal in a short time made us collect
many resources, and the result was that the resources were squandered. The
result was that the operators were improvised every day: young men without
any experience were seen the following day operating a tractor; they did
not take care of them, they did not grease them, they did not maintain

I tell you these things because I have lived through such experiences. In
these struggled, in these tremendous structure changes, in these
circumstances in which the properties and the means of production become
the property of the people, there is necessary a supreme effort of
education, responsibility, conscience, savings, struggle for production.
All this is necessary because otherwise years may be lost, many resources
may be lost. And we, at a certain moment, had an abundance of resources,
and sometimes it is better not to have such an abundance of resources for
the resources to be used properly.

Sometimes an owner's tractor lasted him 20 years. Yet later, on a [farm]
production center, a tractor, instead of lasting 20 years, would last 2, 3,
or 4 years.

You have a formula--and we think it is a good idea--enabling the masses to
select men of responsibility. Now, the masses should not only know how to
select; the masses should demand from the men outstanding discipline,
responsibility. Just because the masses elect this man to lead, he should
not feel obligated to tolerate lack of discipline or inefficiency.

I tell you this out of experience. In our country, during the workers
assemblies the hardest criticism is for the person who does not want to
face problems, the person who does not require others to meet their
responsibilities. It is good to have the masses select; but we tell the
workers that at the same time as they elect men to represent them, they
should demand from those men to be right, to be demanding, but that they do
it in a friendly, fraternal, and human manner.

None of these men is a manager, or owner, or representing any other
interest than that of the workers, representing the interest of the workers
and the interest of the country. Therefore the workers must demand that
these men fulfill their obligation in a firm manner, in a responsible
manner; that they defend the interests of the workers and the people better
than the owner, the manager, the landlord. This is necessary. Revolutions
are sometimes very sudden changes, very fast, but the men who assume the
responsibilities are not used to something new.

Today, you are living in a moment of happiness, of euphoria, of hope in the
future. But very early we reminded them of all those things, the type of
problems we had; the type of difficulties. The hour of awakening of a
country is beautiful, that historical instant when a country is the owner
of its destiny, of its means, of its resources. It is very beautiful to
feel liberated from exploitation, to know that you do not work for someone
else. This is not something I say, when Sergio spoke, he said: we feel
good. Now we are not working for a foreigner who makes the money, who takes
this, who takes care of that. He expressed his feelings as a worker, a
simple worker. I joked with him and told him: but Sergio, you are really
indoctrinated, what type of political education you have received.

Because we heard him, and he was only expressing the truth, the feelings,
the hopes of a humble worker, of a humble worker of the people. (applause)
You are living through this magnificent minute, this magnificent instant.
As a revolutionary who lived these experiences with his people in very
harsh moments, I can tell you that our problem during the first years of
the revolution was that we had to devote ourselves to surviving. We had to
dedicate ourselves to our basic defense. That is why we could not give all
the time and all the attention that revolutionaries would have liked to
have given to those problems, to each farm, to each unit, to each plan,
because for almost 10 years we had to dedicate ourselves to subsisting, to
defending ourselves with our hands, our fee, our nails, our teeth, in a
situation with everything trying to exterminate us.

Of course, we had to dedicate almost all our thought and almost all of our
energies to it, but while we were absorbed in doing this we had the
opportunity to see all the vices, errors, and problems which can be created
in production.

That is why we gained this experience, not forgetting our early years, our
happiness, our euphoria, everyone's euphoria. Of course, I believe that
here the effort must primarily be the workers' effort, not only the effort
of the workers but also of political leaders, those responsible for
financial and economic organizations, and the technicians.

The role of the technicians is very important in all these matters. You
have much ahead of you; these barren plains, the pampas, the immensity of
land where you have certain soils, where you have one sheep per hectare,
where it has been said you could have even four sheep per hectare by
planting artificial pastures, fighting the weeds, using planned techniques.

Well, the least we can expect is that some day this region will produce for
the country four times more wool than is produced today. This is in the
hands of the workers, of the technicians, of the labor leaders, of the
political leaders. This is the magnificent, the formidable, the
extraordinary opportunity which you now have.

And we are really happy. We are all going back to our early years; we are
going back to that moment of happiness of the peoples. Today, our people
are not only capable of subsisting; they have learned to subsist and to
work. Our people are making magnificent things, but we have gone through
that experience and today we have lived through moments of happiness in
recalling our history. Punta Arenas has reminded us of many things; we do
not know how many things. It has been a culmination; it has been the
meeting of so many symbols. But today is the first time we have visited a
field, an agrarian reform area, a herd. We see all this; we have lived our
first revolutionary years once more. [applause]

That is why I tell you that this is a unique, extraordinary opportunity. We
must take advantage of it. As you see, I do not come here as a teacher; on
the contrary, I come as a self-critic. We do not come here as wise men who
know it all, who do everything perfectly. We come to point out those things
in which we made mistakes or things which we neglected. We came to tell you
these experiences in case they can be useful to you.

In conclusion, our impression is of optimism. The men of this country are
formidable; we have seen it everywhere. This is a formidable country and we
see it everywhere we go. We see it in Sergio, in the leaders, in Armando,
in the others, in the engineers in the equipment operators, in everyone.

Really, I like it very much; I foresee everything in good shape if you will
follow the same line of responsibility, of concern, of conscience which you
now have. I see everything going well. We believe you have great prospects
for success, and with all my heart, dear friends, dear workers in these
peasant areas, we wish you success. thank you. [applause]