Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Address to ECLA

Santiago Chile PRENSA LATINA in Spanish to PRENSA LATINA Havana 1730 GMT 30

[Text] Following is the text of the address delivered by Cuban Prime
Minister Fidel Castro on 29 November in Santiago, Chile, at the Economic
Commission for Latin America (ECLA):

Dr. Raul Prebish, Dr. Carlos Quintana, leaders and workers of ECLA,
representatives of the UN agencies: When Dr. Quintana welcomed us and told
us that he was very happy to have us here--this is when we were talking
through the lobby--I said to him: For me this is really a serious
commitment. Due to the turmoil of these past few days, I have not had a
minute to prepare and somehow organize the ideas and viewpoints I will
express here, or, briefly stated,to give some depth to the statements which
may be made here.

In any case, I appreciate very much, first of all, the gesture, the
kindness of inviting us, and in a certain sense, the symbolism of our
meeting--precisely because it is an instance of a representative of a
country that has lived under special circumstances, that has lived through
certain experiences, that has tried to solve its problems, [words
indistinct] also under special circumstances.

I appreciate the invitation because it is a case of an institution that was
friendly toward us, of an institution that during the period of the great
restrictions, during the period of the great denunciations, during the
period when all means of influence were used by the world's greatest
economic, political, and military power, maintained cordial relations with
our country. Its leaders made numerous friendly gestures toward us.

We are also aware of the traditions, the ideas and the positions sustained
during times when such ideas and such positions were still very much not in
vogue. Even the defense of certain viewpoints was considered extremist

I imagine that ECLA was called extremist more than once, and only by a
miracle was not accused of being communist--particularly if we consider
that even matters concerning the agrarian reform and other structural
changes were considered extremist changes. For example, we remember how it
was practically a sacrilege to mention the word agrarian reform in the
United States. I hope you will understand me when I find myself in need of
using certain Christian terms. I hope that you will remember that recently
I was given a bible as a gift, and that this may help to remind me of some
of my childhood studies.

I remember perfectly well when the agrarian reform was organized in our
country, when talk about the agrarian reform began and it was decided to
carry out an agrarian reform, a mild agrarian reform--for when you read our
agrarian reform law you will discover that there is nothing exaggerated
about it. Our agrarian reform even established the maximum limit of 30
caballerias, which is equivalent to 30 by 13.4 hectares. We could say some
400 hectares with the highest limit being up to 100 [as received]
caballerias. That amounted to a little more than 1,000 hectares in cases of
highly specialized units. Subsequently there were agrarian reform projects
establishing limits way below this.

In our country we had the situation that certain U.S. firms owned 10,000
caballerias. Some of them owned 15,000 caballerias of prime land. Some of
these U.S. firms were very influential in the United States. Since there
had not been any talk about socialism or communism in our country, although
some laws had been passed in our country which today could be called
reformist laws, it was decided [Castro apparently starts new thought, but
drop its] This we know--for it has been proved by history, because, as you
know, in the U.S. Government is is customary because of certain traditions,
to publish shameful acts every 10, every 15, every 2, every (?25) years, or
at any moment depending on the case. For example, we have the recently
published Pentagon Papers which violated institutional privileges. It is
said that some of these papers will be published 100 years from now, as in
the case of the Kennedy death inquiry. Thus, no one knows what we will find
out 100 years from now. We do know, however, that as soon as the Cuba
agrarian reform law was passed, the Playa Giron expedition started to be

Even the most apolitical of us know that when the agrarian reform law was
drafted in Guatemala, the ousting of that government was immediately
organized. In both countries, the United Fruit Company--tell me if I have
pronounced it more or less correctly (laughter)--have very large interests.
Thus, here began the history of the aggressions, the blockade,the
proscriptions, and of all the means used to destroy us. It started because
of that mild agrarian reform.

The policy preceding the Cuban revolution was 100 percent retrogressive,
reactionary, followed by political circles which practically dominated this
continent and a great part of the world.

When the Cuban revolution occurred, these circles decided to make some
concessions. These concessions were not progressive, much less were they
revolutionary. They were antiprogressive. They were counterrevolutionary,
because their objective as to justify aggressions against Cuba, stop the
possible influence of the Cuban revolution, and above all, if possible,
with "mercurochrome" measures treat the economic and social cancer of the
two peoples--to gain time and to see what would happen later. All this
inspired certain theories. More than theories, it inspired certain economic
action basically for supporting the prevailing interests, stopping, if
possible, the revolution, and at the same time maintaining the
system--particularly the system of economic penetration--controlling our
natural resources, and keeping our political status quo. With complete
frankness and with all respect we say: Such status quo cannot be

We have heard the words of Dr. Quintana, kind words, respectful words,
careful words, stating certain points. We are going to use these words
mainly to discuss some points in the short time we have, although we need
more time to discuss these ideas.

There are, of course, integrationist tendencies between the big economic
communities insofar as is possible. We have had the case of Europe and the
United States. We have even had the penetration of the United States in
Europe and also the tendency of the United States to integrate the European
economy into the U.S. economy. For this, as everyone knows, the United
States used false checks valued at $50 million distributed throughout the
world which today are not convertible into dollars.

Even between the socialist camp and the western camp there are certain
economic integrationist tendencies, stemming from the current tremendous
technical problems and the enormous cost of the solution of certain
problems. They also stem from the rational use of certain resources. For
instance, gas lines are built which, starting from the USSR, cross the
socialist countries of Eastern Europe and arrive in West Germany, France
and Italy. Oil lines are also being built. The USSR has enormous reserves
of such sources of energy. A certain integration is taking place in the
production of electrical energy.

We all know the famous problem of the electrical peak load and we know it
better than anyone else, because we see it almost every day and it results
simply in black-outs, despite the fact that our country has virtually
tripled the capacity of its installations in the past 10 years. Poor
maintenance, we admit frankly, has prevented us from making full use of
this capacity, but maintenance problems are far from being the basic
problem. The basic problem is that electrical consumption has increased
vastly. We made some thoughtless mistakes, such as the purchase of tens of
thousands of electrical stoves--a convenient invention, but very costly--in
a country where there was full employment and abundant currency in
circulation and cheap electricity, the rates having been reduced by the
revolution, on a scale which was intended to stimulate the use of energy,
making the first kilowatts used every expensive and the last cheap. If the
first 50 kilowatts cost 50 cents, when some hundreds had been used, for
instance, the rate went down to 4 cents. Then, legislating in a
revolutionary manner, we thought on matters which were keenly felt by the
people, simply lowered these rates, making the first cost 5 cents and the
others 2 cents. We acted as bad legislators and worse economists.

In foreign trade, completely ignoring these facts, came the importation, as
I repeat, of great quantities of electric stoves. The enormous use of
electricity, increased service to numerous areas in the cities and the
country, more schools, more hospitals, more social institutions plus the
essential nature of any revolutionary change under conditions of
underdevelopment and (?lack of knowledge) resulted in our peak electricity

Forgive me for this explanation of our electricity problems. It is simply
so that you will understand why every country needs to have a high capacity
for certain hours of the day or night. Certain countries have resorted to
their hydroelectric resources which make it possible for them to produce
cheap energy without wasting oil or coal. Our country has neither coal nor
electrical energy, nor oil. After overcoming great natural obstacles, we
are trying to find oil and we are finding some, but we have not yet found
any sea of oil. Had we done so, this would have been good, particularly in
a socialist economy and perhaps it would have been a great misfortune in a
monopolistic, imperialist, or feudal economy. These resources sometimes
help nations and other times they corrupt them to the marrow of the bone.

In Europe, the following occurs: When in Moscow it is 1200, in the vicinity
of Warsaw it may be 1100, or, if we go further, when in the Urals it is
1200, in Moscow it is another time, in Warsaw another time and in Germany
it may be possibly 9 p.m., in Paris, it may be 8 p.m., and so forth. By
interconnecting their electrical systems they pass on the peak load and
they pass on their electrical capacities.

Imagine the immense savings, the technological privileges, and the
advantages of the integrated industrialized nations, to give an idea.

There is also something more to be said on this matter of
integration--about the formerly developed nations. For instance, England,
once the cradle of the industrial revolution, the inventor of steel
production technologies, discovered of the great uses of coal, the builder
of the most modern textile machines, builder of ships, railroads and
chemical industries, once the proud and powerful empire--if England remains
alone it falls into underdevelopment and England has been, in fact, falling
into relative underdevelopment--England, the cradle of the industrial

It would be well for us to meditate on this, we who dream of development as
micronations--begging the pardon of the strict nationalists.

England is desperately seeking economic union with Europe, desperately,
rather to the disgust of certain clients in the third world--is this not
so? And Europe, the Europe of the fierce wars, the Europe which in recent
centuries has been systematically at war with itself, Europe which has been
at war since the times of Julius Caesar, Europe which speaks so many
difference languages,some very Latin and very soft, others very guttural
and very harsh, is desperately seeking economic union and will inexorably
seek political union, because, in fact, such economic unions are the bases
of future political unions and England is trying to join this union. Yet no
one can guarantee that, despite such unions,they may not have to suffer in
the future a certain relative underdevelopment because other communities,
with still greater resources, with greater impetus in the technological
field, are advancing.

The problems deriving form the modern chemical industry are known. The
problems deriving from electronics and cybernetics are known. Some people
have even tried to make political capital by talking of these things. There
was a little book which became famous because it presented some data about
which its author apparently became too enthusiastic. He spoke of the way in
which the European electronics and cybernetics industry depended on
(?patents) and the big North American machines, which, if they wanted to,
could paralyze the economies of the countries because these machines were
not sold, they were rented with their technologies. It talked of the
capacity of enterprises, of the administration of enterprises of the North
American science of administration, which made it possible for such
enterprises to control the economy not only with false checks, but also by
mobilizing the resources of the nations to Europe. Europe could not defend
itself from North American penetration. These clear facts bring us to an
almost immediate future, a future now already real: The big human
communities with powerful technical and economic resources, with their
enormous advances.

We have within the socialist camp, the Soviet economic community and the
countries of Eastern Europe. We have the vast economic community or the
great human community of China, now a member of the UN, which has, despite
its poverty, developed some industries and even nuclear weapons. All this
was made possible in today's world by the presence of a continent with more
than 700 million inhabitants--so that although a poor country, the size and
scale of the community permitted the solution of problems that a small
country could not even dream of.

We have the European Economic Community which defends itself with high
duties and forces us to pay the high costs of many industrial
products--high priced because of the high incomes of these countries and
their high standard of living. If Cuba sells meat, or as on occasion has
sold sugar for less than 2 cents while in Europe it costs 7, 8, 9 or 10
cents--then we do not like this. Perhaps, Dr. Raul Prebish understands this
clearly. It is a fact that the duties assessed on our products help to
subsidize the high-priced agricultural products of the common market. The
super-poor countries are subsidizing the economies of the super-rich

We have the economic community of the United States with 200 million
inhabitants, with its great industrial development, with its monopolistic
criteria, with its great national egotism, with its duties--now levied in a
new way--of 10 percent with threats of making it 15 percent, and some hopes
of eliminating some Latin American products, which will not resolve
anything. In addition, they come around trying to look good and to receive

This is the world situation. Within this situation we should look at the
picture of our countries and, of course, that of Cuba, which was not the
cradle of the industrial revolution, which has no coal, which does not
produce 25 or 30 million tons of steel and so forth.

Any country of this continent which believes that in itself it has some
potential in the world finds that it is of little importance whether th
women have had more or fewer children, or that the rates of development are
greater or lower, that some develop more than others, or even that some
countries have the idea of substituting for the former empires and the
former policemen--a word to the wise. None of these countries with their
present technical resources, with their social problems, with their
repressive systems, can become policemen at a time when the few people of
Vietnam are settling accounts with the best-equipped, most technical, most
electronically-oriented troops in the world.

This small country has managed to defeat this avalanche of technical
weapons which has dropped more than twice the quantities of explosives used
in World War II.

To even consider substituting for such missions in the world is now
complete insanity and therefore should not even be considered. The real
concern is something else: Balkanization--the innate weakness of people who
have so much in common, as in the case of the Latin American peoples, and
who have no other chance for survival in the future except through closer
economic union and consequently also a closer future political relationship
to form a new community, which within 30 years will have a population of
600 million. (applause) Even under these conditions the new community will
have to make an unusual effort to take its place in the world of tomorrow.
These are realities which even an illiterate can understand. This is the
general picture.

Now comes the difficult and delicate problem, especially for you who have
to work in these international organizations--but not so difficult for an
intruding individual (laughs) who has a certain freedom of speech in this
case, here in ECLA. (applause) It is a political problem demanding basic
integration but not industrial integration on the scale of the United
States. There are political prerequisites necessary to achieve some form of
planned regional integration which will really serve the future interests
of our countries.

Then we have the case of Cuba. Cuba is ready to integrate, that is, the
political will exists 100 percent, but one would have to ask how and with
whom. It was very easy to begin economic relations with a country such as
Chile, and it was immediate. They asked us what we had an excess of and
what we needed. Of course when we are asked this question we always find
that we have an excess of very few products and we need almost everything.
(applause) The Chileans have a great deal: wood products, some metals, some
agriculture products and especially pine, although no one knows how long
this excess will last. We trust the Chilean escudo, which has recently
increased considerably in value, increasing the purchasing power of the
masses. We know what the purchasing power of the masses is. Some beans,
which if they are not actually in excess, could be produced in excess, and
certainly there are black beans which are not customarily eaten and they
say that they have increased in production. We have hopes of receiving some

Another road was soon found. On our part, controlling foreign trade is a
vital cornerstone of the economy. It is no longer a matter of personal
interests buying where it is more convenient for their accounts and their
profits. It is now a matter of national interests centralizing their
foreign trade policy and trading their products where it is more

We are prepared to carry out integration plans with Chile. We are prepared
to carry out integration plans with any Latin American country. But how?
What other countries are prepared to do the same? Gentlemen, we do not have
to ask anyone to allow us to carry out any integration plan with any Latin
American country. What is th case of many others? They have to ask
permission. With countries with similar economic systems, yes, and with
countries with different systems, theoretically yes, as an expression if
you like of a hope in the [word indistinct] reality and in theory also.

Why? With whom are we going to integrate? With a U.S. monopoly? With whom
are we going to integrate? With personal interests? How can this
integration be possible?

We admire your efforts and your struggles. You have played an important
role in the area of ideas, of the publication of realities, of concepts
which serve to help one become aware of these realities, which also serve
at the same time for a political awareness in order to realize that only
under conditions of political changes, that only under conditions of
revolutionary change, will the necessary prerequisites for the true
integration of our countries be created. It is evident that this is not a
subversive theory or an intervention of the domestic affairs of others,
this is only the basic prerequisite for the future condition of our

This is what we were referring to when we talked of expressing ourselves
with certain freedom in this matter.

You know better than we the present outlook: Foreign investments between 15
and 20 million [units not specified]

I do not have the exact figures, because the only ones that we know are the
ones in Cuba, and these must be discounted, they have already been
discounted--especially North American investments, since we treated some of
them differently. We treated the Canadian banks differently. The Swiss food
industry is even receiving compensation, as are other industries.

The foreign debt must be about 20,000 [as received]--you must be better
informed than I--the foreign debt to international organizations, almost
all controlled by the United States, the foreign debt directly to the U.S.
Government, and debts which are beginning to be paid. According to the
facts, if one adds the foreign investments and the debt, the dividends and
the profits from these debts, they are equal to a third of the exports from
this continent.

We have read in the last few days that Chile owes more than 3.5 billion. It
is known, for example, that Uruguay owes more than 8 billion and that that
country has to pay 80 million a year and exports about 190 to 200
(?million). It has to import at least this same figure to live, to subsist,
to subsist with difficulty, since its basic products have problems in the
markets--not only problems of unbalanced trade, but economic market

It is said that the Argentine Republic owes 5 billion. I do not know what
the others owe, but what I ask is: How are they going to pay? How are they
going to pay the United States? How are they going to pay the foreign debt
to that powerful country? How are they going to pay the dividends? How are
they going to maintain a minimum level of subsistance? How are they going
to develop? This is a very serious problem today, tomorrow, and the day
after tomorrow. This is a problem which take us to the reality of our
countries. This is a problem which takes us to consider that famous GATT,
that famous gap, that famous difference. It increases the same way that the
distance between a car which is going at 10 and a car which is going at 100
does, or a car which is going at less than 10 and another which is going to
more than 150.

Present realities of the economy and of technology, which is no longer the
same as during the beginning of the industrial revolution--and I hope that
no one thinks each of us is going to invent it now, because at that time a
blacksmith with a few tools could build a mechanical industry, and this was
the beginning of mechanical industry. What had to be invested in any
industry was small, and it was then the highest technology.

Today, investments in any industry, for example the fertilizer
industry--and we have built several factories--amount to about $50 million
foreign money alone. The same is true for the cement industry, or the
thermoelectric industry--where the units have to grow from 25 to 50, to 100
to 208 [presumably megawatts].

When you obtain the means...? How do you get them, since they are so
costly? How do you get them, considering the debts that you have?

How can you obtain them when these machines are always more expensive and
products tend to sell for less?--except where nature has provided some
overabundant amount of a natural resource, such as petroleum, allowing some
countries to survive while preparing the destruction of their future.

How are these problems solved amidst these realities? How do we provide the
minimum sustenance to our people? How can we grow with a cost of living
greater than our growth, with towns growing at a fast pace, with economies
that are not developing or developing at a very slow rate, confronting
increasing needs?

This brings up another matter: growth deformed and frantic with needs.
Studies reveal so much illiteracy, infantile death, malnutrition,
epidemics, housing problems, employment problems,health problems, potable
water problems. If the industrialized countries today face the problem of
air and water pollution, our countries have no type of pollution problems?
They simply have no water. When they look for it they find another type of
pollution, and it is not industrial pollution it is poverty pollution
[words indistinct] that ends in the water table, or in the river, with its
viruses, its parasites and its bacteria.

There are situations, however, such as that in our country, where in its
victory the revolution had 300,000 automobiles, a minimal amount of
construction equipment, complete lack of roads, not to mention more refined
things such as a hospital, a school, or 5,000 tractors.

The automobiles arrived from the United States with low tariffs or through
preferential tax systems through customs houses, or were smuggled in by
many means. Thus the desire for the automobile was established. Everyone
bought a car, including cheap used cars. Every year, however, they had to
cope with spare parts, tires, sheet metal, fuel. In such a situation, it
cannot be determined what percentage of the exports were in cars alone.

The time for other things had come however, television, irons, washing
machines, electric stoves, some essential items, some less
essential--luxuries of industrialized societies, the desire to buy.

Because industrialized societies, aside from taking our natural resources,
exploiting us, mortgaging our lives, unevenly distributing the products of
our countries' labor, brought us their habits and desires for buying,
today's social systems cannot react to these matters: demagogy, political
dealing, solving today's problem through this or that classical electoral

We lived with this. Officials selling out with no desire to serve the
nation. I could already perceive these situations. The capitalists looked
pretty, beautiful, lit-up, full of automobiles, but those traveling in the
automobiles, for example in our country, were not the 500,000 workers who
with the very low productivity provided the taxes the country used to buy
those automobiles. The workers had no schools, no hospitals, no roads, no
transportation of any kind. They did not even have funeral cars to carry
them for burial.

The beautiful capital, the neon signs, and all the mass propaganda media
awakening the want for buying. Buy a cadillac. Buy an Oldsmobile. Buy this
stove, this and that furniture, this and that machine. Buy the latest
material, buy the latest fashion, or, the dress is now long, the dress is
now short, the dress is now at the knee.

One must be in fashion or else be socially ridiculed, scorned. Here you
have a sale on terms, on credit, with down payment or even without down
payment. Here you have raffles, prizes. If you buy this toothpaste you can
win a house. Enormous space is devoted to this by the mass media.

When the countries were overmortgaged, or when they had enormous human
needs, enormous and elemental human needs, when they had to perforce
develop, there was a whole process of indoctrination, a whole massive
deformation through all media, because this answered the social realities
created on the basis of individual and selfish interests with no regard for
human and moral factors.

They were the societies of human rights, the very free societies, which one
day history will condemn as it condemns today the times of the Roman
gladiators, of the Christians assassinated in those stadiums or in those
arenas; which history will condemn as it condemns the medieval age and past
and contemporary slavery, savage deeds which have occurred in societies
throughout history.

WE are not trying to say that we have found superior ways, but we are
seeking them. In our country we seek them by all means; we seek human
values above everything else, the participation of the masses above
everything else, and--as we were saying--from the moral point of view we
cannot in our country take decisions on fundamental laws without consulting
the people. Now when a law has to be discussed in all work centers, in all
mass organizations, it has to be unquestionably just law, it has to be
unquestionably useful, and even when it will temporarily affect those very
persons who approve it, sufficient education and sufficient means to teach
how to think and not inculcate certain ideas in their subconscious, not
create reflect actions. [sentence as received]

In our country we do not create reflex actions. In our country we try to
develop intelligence. In our country we try to teach how to think and
reason, and the actions of our people are not actions born of faith but
actions born of thought and reason, and we employ all means and resources
toward this end.

Since we do not intend to speak on that subject, I wanted to tell you, so
there will be no pessimism, that there is an infinite field where human
intelligence can find much more human forms of life, of participation and
decision-making of the masses, so that we need not believe that the old is
the last and most supreme invention, because there is no last or supreme
invention in the history of humanity.

We devote a large part of the communications media resources, not to
stimulate the desire for consumer goods, but for health campaigns,
education campaigns, campaigns against traffic accidents. In our country we
do not defend crime, we do not stimulate crime. We are concerned in our
country with the psychology of the people, with the psychology of the
children, with the psychology of everyone.

See how in this commercial world there are no films for children, either in
the movie houses or on television. All those who have problems with the
psychology of their children know that without any warning, at any hour of
the day or night, the commercial teacher arrives to show the program which
does not educate but which does produce profits, debilitates, softens up,
corrupts and awakens desires for consumer goods in our peoples, which are
habits from abroad, from the industrial nations. Very serious problems. One
more problem among the many we have, all of which have the same order of
irrationality in the economy and in politics, added to all that, there is
the brain drain. Nature created man. Surely--and hardly anyone doubts if
anymore--intelligence was the result of human evolution. In the beginning
it must have operated or did operate in virtue of natural laws. Apparently,
the most intelligent also had the largest number of opportunities for
survival, according to Darwinian principles.

Later, human society put an end in a just manner to the blind laws of
natural selection. Then man's powers of the intellect developed through the
knowledge of science, technology, the development of the media of
communication, which was first through signs and later through the spoken
language. It appears that those who talked the most perhaps had a greater
possibility of surviving. (laughter) It is a shame that there are no such
possibilities in our age. (laughter)

Then came education. As we have said, what grows is knowledge, the
possibility of developing intelligence. Knowledge increases quantitatively.
The number of intellects, the cultivation of those intelligences, the means
of teaching, pedagogy, the auxiliary means of intelligence, the computers,
and so forth, grow quantitatively. Who knows where this road will lead us?
Thank goodness, because so far we have not advanced too much, at least on
the social order.

In those circumstances, each country produces a number of outstanding
intellects. We seek out those outstanding intellects to cultivate them.
Outstanding students are observed and they are oriented toward the fullest
employment of their capacities, and in our countries the outstanding
intellects are lured away. The country which has accumulated the largest
number of scientists and researchers takes from us our budding scientists,
our researchers. It takes them away from us. It buys them--that is the
word. Economic interest prevails over may be vocational interest, since
they are offered a greater possibility for doing research; and, goodbye to
the country where I was born.

Of course, Cuba received different treatment. They tried to take away even
the skilled workers, and they did take them away. There was no solid
patriotic conscience in our country. That neighboring society, with all its
development and its luxuries and its movies and its magazines and its books
and its culture, which had nothing to do with the interests or traditions
of our peoples, had created the desire even to live in that society and had
opened the doors wide after the revolution to rob the country of
physicians, technicians, even skilled workers. They did it and we accepted
the challenge. The price was certainly high.

We have said that our of 6,000 physicians, they took away 3,000. Now we
have 8,000. Within 5 years we will have from 12,000 to 14,000. At least--at
the very least--12,000 for 1975. We have physicians for our needs and at
times we have been able to help other countries. If we did not have limits
in the enrollment of universities, we would have more. Unfortunately, we
have had to place limits on enrollment: 1,500 per year. Because we have had
to attend to other areas, we still (do not) have a large mass of graduates.

But what different problems we find in Chile; 90,000 struggling to get into
the universities, and we in our country hoping that they will graduate to
take them to the various university areas. [sentence as received]

It is clear that a minimum of development--attempts to resolve educational
problems, health problems, medical problems--necessarily lead to great
demand, especially when the country depends on a product such as sugar,
where productivity per man is low and where mechanization is a long and
difficult road.

In our country, 300,000 currently work in the areas of education and public
health alone. We are trying to recover lost time. We have fought with
success and we have eradicated numerous diseases.

Not a single child has died from polio for years, for instance. We have
eradicated other contagious diseases, and tuberculosis is virtually
disappearing; the hospitals are being emptied, including the many
antituberrculosis hospitals we had--which today we can use for other
things; almost 100 percent of childbearing is done in institutions.

We have made modest progress under our difficult conditions. We have had
and we still have the same problems as other countries, and even more so,
because we have depended on a single product, as we said, on sugar, for
years the price remained at 2 cents, half of our production cost. For years
we have had to employ up to 300,000 men in arms to defend the country from
unjustified, unqualifiable dangers from the powerful; we have had to resist
the blockade.

Our merchant fleet--which is a real merchant fleet--can hardly transport 7
percent of what comes and goes out of the country because its voyages
average 14 kms. [sentence as received]

These are realities, not those which are spread around, not the systematic
lies of other countries.

Everything is disguised, the efforts that they made to ruin us and to bury
us simply because of the crime of wanting to change, of wanting to create
an more rational community for our country at the present time, of opening
our doors to the future, of opening our doors to integration and the union
of our peoples.

We have had to pay a high price. International solidarity, as we have said,
has been a great help to us. Otherwise, how could we have been able to
survive when we were left overnight without a market for sugar, which was
80 percent of our income; when we were left overnight without a single ton
of oil, when we were already using close to 4 million tons [presumably
annually], when they threatened to invade us with mercenaries or with
regular forces and forces us to employ a large number of youths who would
perhaps have been engineers or physicians today--youths whom we had to take
out of the technological institutes to take them there [into the armed
forces] to learn electronics, not the electronics of production but the
electronic of weapons., of land-air defensive weapons, and of various
equipment. We sent the elite, the best of our youth, the most enthusiastic,
the most militant, there to prepare to defend the country.

We have had to employ our best young people in this way, which is a
reversal of priorities from the viewpoint of science and of economy. It is
inverse selection, such as has been done with the Latin American
intelligentsia; it is called inverse selection. In a deliberate manner, one
way or another, resources are devoted to that.

These are the facts or our situation, expressed in clear words and without
any intent to propagandize. Anyone who wants to listen to self-criticism,
who wants to have mistakes pointed out to him, may go to our country,
because it was the poor people who had to take charge of everything and
manage a great industry--often men with only a fifth or sixth grade

But we have persisted on this road. We have survived. Today in our country
we have formulas, and each day we find more formulas to resolve different
problems one way or another, such as the problem of housing, which the
workers themselves are resolving. They are accomplishing this by extra work
in residential areas prepared with equipment put there by the state to
create conditions for building streets and moving earth. And the factory
workers in their off hours send brigades of construction workers.

Those who stay behind in the factories do their work for them, and those
who go there in the name of the workers sometimes work 14 and 15 hours; and
they do it with enthusiasm. They do it to help solve problems. They not
only build the houses; they build everything--the sewers, water system,
schools, recreation centers, polyclinics. An enormous amount of extra work
is done. Before, we were hindered by the lack of strong right arms which
arose following the revolution, when certain needs began gradually to be
taken care of; among them, those of defense, education, public health, and

An enormous effort to strengthen the infrastructure is being made in our
country today. There are more than 150 road and highway brigades working
simultaneously, 14 dam brigades, many irrigation brigades trying to create
an infrastructure to confront the droughts which now and then hit us,
sometimes violently--the floods, hurricanes, we suffer from all those
things. We all have to suffer from something, for some it is earthquakes,
for others it is hurricanes. These are the problems which are disrupting
our construction work and our agricultural work.

In our country--for instance, in the city of Havana at the time we left
there were 300 buildings under construction; 300 mulifamily buildings being
built at the same time by the workers; and we are seeking more and more
solutions. Sometimes it has taken us time to discover realities. Sometimes
it has taken us time to grow are of our problems. It has taken us time to
find solutions, but we are finding them and we will continue to find them.

We are not trying to set ourselves up as a model. When we speak of the
Cuban examples, I say: learn from our mistakes; take into account the
errors we committed so you will not repeat them in this or that area. We
are trying to show our faults rather than our successes.

But that is part of the moral fiber of our people. That collective moral
fiber can be observed by any visitor. Whoever goes expecting to find neon
lights and luxurious facades, whoever goes expecting to see new automobiles
had better not visit our country. The automobiles are very old. But whoever
goes with certain humane concerns, whoever is already aware of certain
patterns of social conduct and knows how to assess them, may visit our
country and see the effort we are making.

We recall that we had the honor of being visited by Dr. Prebisch, we showed
him some things. We are certain that if he visited our country again today
he would see many more new things. We do not hide our difficulties or our
problems, but we have been able to create a solid, united society with a
high moral conscience, with a high political culture with which we will
face the future.

We have a stable society which no longer depends on men, which now depends
on the masses. Fortunately, none of us is any longer indispensable in our
countries; because it is no longer men, it is people who advance; it is no
longer the ideas of a few but the ideas of millions of persons.

That is our reality today, with all the problems that a poor country can
have but where man feels like somebody, feels part of something--because
social changes do not begin exactly by providing goods; the goods they do
provide are not the goods to which the industrial societies are accustomed:
educational problems, the problems of technical training, health problems,
problems that have to do with man are solved before going on to other

We attend to material needs, we try to improve, but we follow a rigorous
order of priorities. And in addition, man feels like man. And there is
something that we must bear much in mind: our poor countries, when they
make changes, have little to give on the material plane. And if they want
to give a lot on the material plane, they are not able to, and if they turn
the material into the main motivation, they fail. Because, of course, there
is something that a moral order gives us: man feels dignified, he feels a
part of the life of his country. New, deep, and powerful motivations
appear; he grows aware and is psychologically prepared to work for the
future, because we do not have a paradise.

We have known what the mirage of the full shop windows is: that idea that
there is an infinite number of goods because they have them in the shop
windows and we cannot buy them. But when you have a little purchasing
power, the shop windows empty, and they empty fast. We know those mirages,
we know those realities, we work for the future. That is what we do in our

Forgive us for the reference; we do not try to change images, images are
also the product of history. They are not supreme or eternal, and neither
are the bad images of our fatherland which some have wanted to create. We
are not worried; it is simply a historical problem.

References to our country only help to illustrate the ideas we have wanted
to touch on here.

And I want you who have worked to know, you who perhaps have wished for a
faster pace, who deep in your hearts saw and felt the desire for more
profound changes, who in thinking saw those realities and the only
solutions with mathematical clarity; we know that you are facing those
realities and have to continue patiently struggling with them. But I want
you to know that our fatherland is open to integration and union, that our
fatherland is open to as much cooperation as our strength and resources
permit, open to material cooperation, and above all open to the moral
cooperation of the men who study, do research and work to find solutions to
the serious problems of our peoples. Thank you very much. (applause)