Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Santa Cruz Speech

Santiago Chile PRENSA LATINA in Spanish to PRENSA LATINA Havana 2030 GMT 27

[Text] Follows is the text of a speech delivered by Cuban Prime Minister
Fidel Castro at Santa Cruz, Colchagua Province, Chile on 25 November:

It we roll up the flags then everyone can see. We saw the flags, they are
beautiful, but the main thing now is for the people to see.

Dear peasants and workers of Colchagua Province:

You cannot image what a commitment it was for me to attend this meeting of
the peasants of the province. For anyone who comes here for the first time,
who has only a little change to talk with the peasants--well, since I have
not much experience here, it is really difficult to talk about a topic, to
talk about regional questions, or questions or interest when I lack
sufficient information.

However, this farming problem, these problems of the countryside's roads
and structures, the agrarian reform, actually are among the most difficult
to be found in our country.

Resolving the copper problem is different. There are huge developed plants
yet it is not easy to resolve it, as there are big owners and powerful
interests. (applause)

But things go differently when the law is defined, when there is agreement
and decision: everything is organized. There is no changing of the
production technology, as it flows. What must be done from morning to night
is known.

Nevertheless, agriculture is another thing. First you people found yourself
on vast ranches--but I say that ours were even bigger than yours. Then, of
course, things change tremendously; all the struggles, and frequently
production halts.

It is a much more difficult issue to resolve the social and economic
question of the countryside than of big industry. For the farmlands are not
highly developed industrially. Frequently they are vast farms where
production is tailored to the conveniences and interests of the big

But this is not the only problem; the problem is not just the big
latifundia--there is the problem of small farms where technology is poor
and production is low.

In a word, the farm problems are the most serious that revolutionary
processes have encountered anywhere in the world. In our country the farm
situation was very different. The problems were so different that our
experience could be of little use to you--many of our experiences--for the
situations were totally different.

We had the huge canefields surrounding the sugar mills, vast cattle-raising
lands, thousands and thousands of hectares and only a few peons who tended
the cattle. There was no technology, no fences, no pastures, and no
fertilizer was used. And there were vast rich fields.

So, the conditions were far different from those we have seen in your rural
areas, which leads me to conclude that none of our experiences could be
useful to you.

Then too, we faced the terrible social problem of a total lack of doctors,
total lack of rural medical services, and a lack of roads and schools. And
when we lack roads in Cuba it is different than here, as heavy rains
sometimes totalling 100 inches fall at once in the spring. So, if there are
no roads, mud holes form--swamps that no truck can pass.

We also had latifundias, mono-cultivation everywhere, and the worst of
social conditions. The workers lived in barns under bad conditions--very
great social problems.

Yet we have not been able to make headway in everything. For instance,
housing. In the past 10 years we have mad relatively little progress in
housing. But now we are implementing intensive housing construction
programs, and the countryside is being changed. Naturally, machinery
came--tractors, and all such equipment.

And there is another thing. We are different than Chile, which has a labor
surplus in the rural areas. At first we had a surplus too. Why? Because
there was little work in the big sugar plantations for months--during half
of the year, 7 or 8 months, there was only a little work. This was the time
for cleaning the canefields because fertilizers were not being employed.
Then the countryside came to a standstill, though during harvest time
hundreds of thousands of canecutters were needed. Of course the men turned
to the canefields because they had nowhere else to work--they went to do
hard work.

We would tell you that we hoped our country had [words indistinct] at this
moment it is not summertime in Cuba, and even during what we call
wintertime everyone sweats. So, when one must cut tons of cane by hand that
is hard work in our climate, which does not help at all.

I said our men went to earn a living in the canefields. There was no other
choice except to starve to death--literally. They would work 4 or 5 months,
and after that they would work only part-time for 7 or 8 months.

They went were into debt all year, buying on credit at small stores and
paying during the harvest. But when the revolution came the men had many
opportunities to work. For instance, construction was needed, and many men
preferred doing that to the hard work of canecutting.

Then there were other problems, problems connected with the country's
defense. This was because we lived under constant threat. For years we had
as many as 300,000 men under arms. And many canecutters and workers
naturally enlisted in military units.

And there were yet other problems. Many old men were working because
workers' retirement pensions amounted to the equivalent of only $7. Can you
imagine that? And this was nothing. One could see 70 and 75-year old men
working 8 hours a day. The revolution raised pensions to 40 pesos ($40) the
first year and to 60 pesos later, and tens of thousands of caneworkers
decided to retire. We thus lost tens of thousands of canecutters.

Then came the agrarian reform. Up to then many small tenant farmers did not
make enough to live on, so at harvest time they went to cut cane. But when
the revolution came those small farmers who did not own their tracts were
made owners of them by the agrarian law. Then as they ceased paying rent
they began working their land and quit going to cut cane.

As can be seen, the labor force for the harvests gradually shrank;
therefore, the situation became not men desperate for work but the sugar
mills desperate for men with whom to carry out the harvest.

Of course it would be easy to ask: But can the problem not be solved with
machines? But we could not do this simply because there were no canecutting
machines in the world. For in fact cane is not cultivated like rice, wheat
or corn, which grown upright and a combine is made which cuts the wheat and
separates the grains. Wheat, corn and rice are all harvested that way.

We have totally mechanized rice. We have no labor problems for that because
we sow it by plane, we dust it by plane, and we prepare all the soil with
machines and harvest it with combines. There are combines for rice but not
for cane.

So, you can realize the problem: A lack of labor and no machines. We have
tried to solve the technical problem of machines for almost 10 years. And
at last now there are machines. They exist. But we have been acquiring them
for a year so as to eventually entirely mechanize the cane harvest.

However, our situation differs entirely from that of Chile's countryside.
Your problem centers on the migrant farmers, inasmuch as you have a surplus
of the workers you need, so our remedies could not be what you need here.

Our agrarian reform was entirely different because Cuba's copper is
cane--the cultivation of it--and we had no other basic resources. We had to
make big investments and therefore organize farming differently.

But actually we have accomplished something. We can introduce the machines
in our country and the only way to raise production and resolve the labor
force problem is to bring in machines.

However, as we told the workers in Rio Verde, Magallanes--because we saw
the tractors on the farms there--as we told them. "Take good care of those
tractors and maintain them so they can last you 10, 15, 20 years."

And again, with our hot climate work is very arduous. Over the past 10
years we have imported more than 50,000 tractors. We have not imported
automobiles, though during the past 10 years we did import 1,000
automobiles, for the local problems in Cuba were incredible.

For instance, in a country with 500,000 unemployed, with 800,000 children
without schools, with 1 million illiterates, without roads, hospitals or
country schools--and frequently not even city schools--there were 300,000
automobiles which had been smuggled in.

Ministers and venal officials imported used card cheaply from the United
States, however, these cars all had to have gasoline, tires, batteries and
spare parts. That was the foolishness that was rampant in our country when
the revolution triumphed. Just imagine, there were only 5,000 tractors, but
300,000 automobiles.

Naturally the country's economy did not allow importing automobiles and
even less after the U.S. blockade, but we could acquire many tractors,
50,000 of them.

We experience something else, when abundant resources were obtained, they
were not employed well. Let us mention tractors. The old tractor which a
farmer had was not maintained, it was not greased, it was used for almost
anything. The tractor might have been short of water, and someone would
say: You, go fill the radiator. There is a baseball game--perhaps with a
team 5 kms away--and the whole team would ride away 5, 6 kms on the
tractor. Sometimes something was wrong with the battery, or the motor was
overheated. In any event they would park the tractor until the game was
over and then turn around and return.

So, the many resources which were received were not adequately utilized.
That is the truth. Many bad habits, disorganization, lack of discipline,
all those problems were created. I frankly tell you all this because we
gain nothing be telling lies. The revolutionaries must analyze everything
that takes place. We must frankly tell the truth. We must not be afraid. We
do not care what the reactionaries say. (applause)

There was a time you would say: Where are you going with that tractor? He
was going to see his girl friend on that tractor, 7, 8, or 9 kms away; all
those things. Many voices were really created and we must right against
those voices. The reactionaries say: Can't you see? Look at those problems,
look at that situation. Of course, what did they leave? Lack of experience,
lack of technical knowledge, lack of culture.

We began with a situation of much illiteracy. Of course, it was expected:
the exploitation was ended. The crimes committed against the agricultural
workers were finished. That systematic looting, that inhuman thing
finished. When the workers assume control they have great responsibilities.
Sometimes, when they have assumed control, when they are the shapers of
their destinies, when they begin to manage all that, they will, sometimes,
come up with bad management.

If we could tell you what the peasants should do, we would tell you: take
care of what you have. Take care of the machinery. Take care of the
installations, do not squander, do not waste, try to make the most our of
everything. Of course, something that is undeniably very important to us,
and above all, under present Chilean conditions, is the workers'
participation in the production centers. That cannot be denied. (applause)

I tell you, there is no administrative organization which can solve these
problems. It must be the workers, assuming their responsibilities, becoming
conscious of their duties, who establish policies on how to exploit these
expropriated farms.

We talked with some workers at the production center we visited and,
incidentally, found them to be very intelligent workers, very smart. They
answered intelligently--and no one prepared them because really, I
requested that small meeting to talk with the workers and ask their
opinions. We asked them how they were organized, if they had a production
committee or a discipline committee. Whom do you elect to the discipline
committees, the good ones, the kindest ones? They said "No, the most bitter
ones, the most bitter ones." I asked them: Why don't you elect the kindest
ones? They said: "No, because they change quickly or can be manipulated."
They told me something like that. We could clearly see the workers'
consciousness about electing the men who are to lead them, those who will
represent them. They need to be men of character, the straightest, the most

That is the workers' knowledge, the peasants' knowledge: choose the men who
will not come up with demagogery, with political chicanery, or with hostile
attitudes. Choose those men who from the time that they are assigned, a
responsibility, can fraternally call their comrades, correct the, talk,
demand, ask. That is one of the great secrets, because the worst enemy of
production or the working class and the peasants if the weak man, the
easy-going man, the man who does not argue, who wants to avoid arguments,
who wants to avoid the trouble or arguing.

Really, that is a type of cadre that does not solve many problems. Many
times, because of such weak people the lack of discipline that we talked
about would become evident. As you may have seen, we had to introduce
machinery because of our country's conditions. Under Chilean conditions I
believe the situation is different: Chile does not have the tremendous need
for machinery that we had. Of course, it has need for machinery to increase
the agricultural fields, to increase production, but it does not have the
tremendous need for machinery we did because we needed people in the

Our country began an agriculture technicalization process. We also did this
in stock raising. New techniques were introduced, such as progressive
artificial insemination. We began dam construction and irrigation systems
programs. We had a road construction program. There are more than 150
brigades building roads and highways in our country. We have some 14 dam
brigades working simultaneously throughout the country. At present we have
more than 100 dairy construction brigades because we are building very
modern dairies, very technical, completely mechanized.

We are beginning to develop housing construction programs so our
countryside has changed completely. This was not easy, it was not simple.
We confronted problems of disorganization, lack of discipline,
inexperience, and squandering of resources. We have lived through all those

I was jokingly telling a worker that we have had much experience in making
mistakes so we are giving you our experiences in errors. We are telling you
this so they can be useful. Take advantage of them even though there is a
proverb which says that no one learns by another person's mistakes.

It is only fair that when speaking about our problems, we realize that for
almost 10 years we could not peacefully devote out time to solving those
problems. What happened? The need to defend ourselves from the powerful
imperialist forces forced us to induct into our armed forces thousands and
thousands of great revolutionary cadres, tens of thousands of great
progressive and conscious workers. The defense of the country in
confronting a very powerful enemy forced us to use great human resources. A
large part of the revolutionary government's attention had to be
concentrated on the task of survival.

Yesterday we proved how infiltration of armed groups from the United States
had taken place in our country and how armed groups had been taken to every
area of the country, to all the provinces. We proved how in certain areas,
such as Las Villas, they had more than 1,000 armed bandits, divided into
groups which threatened the peasants, which intimidated the peasants, which
tried to confuse and deceive the peasants. Since the peasants paid not
attention, the groups committed abuses, crimes, murdered peasant families
and murdered students who were teaching illiterates in that area.

The groups forced the country to spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of
dollars in that struggle which lasted for years. We had a difficult
struggle in our countryside. Of course we had the people well organized and
those who fought the groups were military units consisting of workers and
peasants of the rural areas. The workers and peasants lived in a state of
war. We really lived for years in a state of civil war as a result of the
plans and aggressions against our country. The imperialist agencies did not
say or publish a word about that, not one word.

Our country had to develop its agricultural policy in the midst of these
problems, of all these difficulties. In spite of all that, the literacy
campaign was carried out, a great literacy campaign, which practically
erradicated illiteracy in our country. An education plan was formulated,
teachers were sent and schools built throughout the country. A rural
medicine program was established, hospitals were built in all rural areas,
and medical services were established in those areas.

In spite of the fact that the imperialists took away half our doctors, the
revolution developed programs in the universities to train new doctors.
During the early days of the revolution we had 1,000 doctors. We then
reached 3,000 and now have 8,000 doctors, mostly young people, technically
well prepared, very good revolutionaries who go to the countryside for the
required number of years. They go anyplace, any corner of the country, any
mountain (applause). The duties of the students are established in our
country. When they graduate as doctors, they must serve where needed
(applause and shouts of long live the Cuban revolution).

Our country always has the great support of the peasant masses; the peasant
masses had great confidence in the revolution and supported it at all
times, in every moment of struggle, under every circumstance.

In our country we have a close alliance between the working class and the
peasant class, and that alliance between the working class and the peasant
class resulted in the strength of the revolution because it was the great
masses who worked hard throughout the countryside, above all in the defense
of the revolution.

During the last few years, we have developed our armed forces; they are
well-trained; they are technically prepared; our armed forces are
well-equipped, and in addition, we have the rest of the people organized
and trained to defend the country in the event of any aggression.
(applause) The whole country is ready to defend the nation. (applause)

Naturally, the enemies of the peasant class have done everything possible
to make these measures fail. The powerful landholders allied themselves
with the imperialists; they supported their mercenary groups organization
policy, supported their armed groups infiltration policy, the landing of
weapons, air drops of weapons, and gave the mercenary armed groups support
to struggle against the revolution.

Our soldiers, united with the workers and the peasants, gave them battle
throughout the country. Even though the struggle was difficult because it
never ceased, the counterrevolutionaries were defeated throughout the

The revolutionaries are accused of promoting violence in general and really
this is a great lie. Those who have historically promoted violence are the
reactionaries; those who have historically promoted violence are the
exploiters when the people struggle, when the people attempt to improve,
when the people want to change their lives, when men attempt to occupy a
place of honor, a worthy place in society.

It is not only the problem of clothing, footwear, food and housing; there
are other problems which are even worse: mistreatment, contempt,
indifference toward man, when man feels like nothing, when man is
considered worthless, when man is despised, when man is mistreated, when
man is demoralized. That is why, even when a man is barefoot, with ragged
clothing, under any circumstance, if man has dignity, if he is poor but has
dignity, he is respected, he is noticed and this is great progress.

Our peoples, too poor to create wealth overnight, our peoples, too poor to
change in a year all the accumulative poverty of centuries, are not only
working to keep up with the times, but also to ennoble man, dignify man,
create a true feeling of justice and equality so that men may begin to work
with more courage, with another conscience, with more spirit. Then man will
say: There is no one to offend me each day, to insult my family each day,
there is no one to insult my wife. All those things use to take place in
our fields and this was very sad and grievous from a human viewpoint.

Those circumstances disappear. Man acquires true stature, man acquires all
his dignity, man begins to be a man. Before those moments arrive, man is
treated like an animal and on certain occasion is treated worse.

We have seen that reality in our country. So, to begin with, the revolution
produces the human being, and that is one of the reasons... that is why
sometimes you see peasants and ask them: What have you liked best? Well,
there are new schools, new hospitals, many improvements. One of the things
they say the most is that now we feel equal, we feel that we are being
considered, we feel like people. They have said this many times, even
before talking about the great material benefits they have received from
the revolution. This is very important. We realize that.

Those are the factors which have created unity among our people. Those are
the factors which, during the most critical moments, have made our people
willing to do anything. We have experienced difficult moments, such as the
Giron invasion, such as the October crisis, when dozens and dozens of
nuclear missiles were aimed at our land and no one was afraid--there was
not a man or woman shaking with fear. Everyone was at his post determined
to do what was necessary, determined to die if need be before going back to
being slaves. (applause)

Ours is not a rich country, ours is a country without an abundance of
natural resources. For example, we do not have Chile's great resources such
as copper and other minerals. As an example, we submit the following: For
us to be able to produce 600 million [monetary unit not identified] in
income, 600 million, we would have had to use a half million workers, while
Chile produces 50 percent more in income with practically 38,000 workers.
This means that in addition to producing 50 percent more than us, Chile
still has 470,000 extra workers.

When a country reaches a level of development in its revolutionary process,
unemployment is finished, because under the new system, no one works for
another's benefit. We disregard the interests of individuals who want to be
millionaires. Only needs are taken into consideration.

In our country we work for man's needs; we do not consider the profits of
Tom, Dick or Harry. We are interested in the people's profit. We say: How
many hospitals do the people need, how many schools do the people need, how
many roads, how many houses, how much property, how much clothing, how many
shoes, how much food do the people need? We then organize our plans and
programs to produce for our needs. We not only ask what we need today, but
also how much will we need in 10 years.

For example, I was told that you have a plan for a dam of 500 million cubic
meters in this province to provide irrigation for some 160,000 hectares of
land. That is great. That dam, however, will cost $52 million, that is, you
must save, you must invest. You must build irrigation systems. Pumps must
be installed. You must take care of those pumps. The machinery industry
must be expanded and you must build factories to build farm machinery,
agricultural equipment, pump factories, motor factories, irrigation pipe
factories. All this has to be produced, and a country needs industries to
produce all this. The country will not be able to consume what is produces
during the year.

You can see the predicament in which the reactionaries and oligarchs left
the people. In the first place, they left us poor, underdeveloped, in debt,
and sometimes with the consumption habits of developed societies. When the
time for a change arrives, one says: Well, what do I have here? On the one
hand, billions of dollars in debt. And here, what do I have? Well, you need
this and that industry. And here, what do I have? The people say: Well, we
need schools, we need doctors, we need hospitals, we need half a million
houses, we need dames, we need new factories for this and that. That is
their inheritance.

We do not gain paradise, we do not get the Garden of Eden. What the
workers, peasants and the people receive all kinds of problems from those
decades and centuries of colonialists, the imperialists and the
reactionaries. (applause) It is necessary that the working people be
conscious that they were left nothing but all kinds of problems. You can
see the problems, such as the one concerning meat. Some 32 years ago in
Chile there were 2.5 million head of cattle and there were only 5 million
inhabitants. Now you have 10 million inhabitants and you have practically
the same number of cattle. So you have twice the population and the same
amount of meat you had 30 years ago. What did they do with the country's
resources? What did they do with the income from copper? They took it,
spent it in New York, squandered it. What cattle development program did
they undertake to ensure that there would be mile for the children, for
everyone in Chile? None. (applause) What development program did they carry
out to insure meat for the people in Chile? None. (applause) Now there is
your inheritance: tens of tens of millions to import meat; milk comes from
the Netherlands, from Germany, 20,000 kms from here.

The problems, the debts, all these difficulties, are the hard realities
inherited by our people when changes take place, when our people open the
road to the future. We were left with that inheritance in Cuba, you have
been left that inheritance in Chile. Then, the problems come, and when
things are lacking, ah, when they are lacking... who is to be blamed for
it? What did they leave? They left the country underdeveloped. How did they
spend the money? On expensive trips, dividends for the great monopolies.
They did not spend it in making dams, enlarging irrigated areas, enlarging
pasture areas, technology, increasing cattle herds and increasing and
improving cattle breeds.

We had to do that during our march. There was not a single insemination
center in our country. Today, in our country there are several insemination
centers with advanced technology. There are in our country magnificent
breeding bulls. There are even some areas in which we cooperate with you.

Maybe we can cooperate in the livestock area. Our country is willing to
cooperate in technology, in matters of insemination with good breeding
bulls which can be used to improve your herds. Of course, that takes years,
that takes man years.

The reactionaries and the imperialist not only left us poverty,
underdevelopment, and debts as an inheritance, but also they are determined
to continue their rule, they are determined to fill the road with
obstacles, they are determined to entangle everything, to jam everything so
that the people cannot progress. They struggle, work and do all the harm
possible, and, generally speaking, they use detestable and despicable

You have already seen here this country's experiences with the victory of
Popular Unity, the cowardly, and vile manner in which they ambushed the
army commander, who was virtually unarmed. They cowardly murdered him. We
have seen and heard about similar incidents, a peasant here, a peasant
there, vilely and cowardly murdered by the same reactionary elements who
murdered the Chilean Army chief. These are lessons.

You do not know what they did to us, you could not imagine, well, that is
nothing. [as received] The day they murdered Manual Ascunce, one of the
thousands of young students who spent a year teaching illiterates; how they
captured the student and the peasant, took them to the hills, how they
tortured them, and in the end, hanged them. The bodies were left hanging
until the following day. Then, what they did to teacher Conrado Benitez,
who was teaching in the area. They came there on day and hanged him.

They carried out the worst abuses, the worst crimes, because they did not
want a literacy campaign, because they did not want schools. In desperation
they resorted to the worst methods. Of course, it is an undeniable fact
that the people, when they decide to march toward progress, the people,
when they are owners of their destinies, do not become intimidated, do not
become afraid, the people become united.

We have talked much about unity because we believe that in every political
process, as complex and difficult as is the revolutionary process, it is
necessary that the people be united. It is necessary that the workers, the
peasants, the students, every aware person and every man serving his
country, become united. What for? To defend oneself from all that.

That is why we speak about the need to become united, and unity is
necessary in the countrysides of Chile--that is unquestionable. Without
unity, your difficulties will be better [as received] without unity, your
difficulties will be bigger, because--and I say again--I believe that the
worst problems will be found in the countryside. The biggest problems are
going to be created by the oligarchy, the reaction, the imperialism in the

This established the need for unity among the peasants, establishes the
need for the peasants' political level leaders...that is what we did. Well,
let us agree on this and other things, because if someone pulls one way and
someone pulls the other, many problems will be created.

We really believe that all the revolutionary forces must give this problem
a lot of thought. You have the hardest task. Unite, adopt a common policy
and carry it out because it is precisely in the countryside where the
Chilean process will find great resistance. In this revolution and in any
other, I tell you, it is in the countryside where things get really bad
because of the different reasons we have already explained. That is why
from us to you who come here with your flags, with your slogans, it looks
very pretty, it is colorful and logical. There are different organizations,
but the most prudent thing, the most important thing is that it does not
matter from what organization you come, let us get together to carry out a
common policy in the countryside. (applause) If you get together and carry
out a common policy, victory is assured. (applause) If you get together and
carry out a united and common policy, victory will be assured. (applause)

It does not matter that the obstacles are big, it does not matter that the
difficulties are big: union and common strategy is the essential condition
and the only road to victory.

Soon, at the year's end, our peasants congress will meet in Cuba. It will
be an interesting congress. We hope that you send a representative. There
you can talk, can see what has been done, good or bad, achievements and
errors. Generally, we talk more about errors than achievements, because if
we talk about achievements every day, we may feel too sure, too good, too
optimistic. Speaking about errors, everyday we place our consciences on
alert, we learn how to overcome ourselves, we become conscious. When you do
to our country, you will see achievements and errors.

We hope that the representatives of the Chilean peasantry can send
representatives and that they may be able to tour our country so that they
gain a direct impression of what we have done there.

We will convey your fraternal greetings and we will tell them [the Cuban
peasants] of all the affection with which we were received as
representatives of the Cuban people and the Cuban revolution. Thank you.