Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana Domestic Radio and Television Services in Spanish 0346 GMT 30 Nov 74

[Fidel Castro speech concluding 2nd Congress of Cuban Women's Federation at
Lazaro Pena Theater in Havana--live]

[Text] Dear guests, dear comrades of the party and government, dear
comrades of the Cuban Women's Federation [FMC]. We have come to the end of
this splendid congress. It is not easy to sum up an event so full of
fruition and hope. Firstly, it has not been a congress that is entirely our
own. We have broadly shared it with a worthy representative delegation of
revolutionary women from all over the world.

Is not the presence in this congress of lady comrades as prestigious as
Fanny Edelmann, Valentina Tereshkova, Angela Davis, Hortensia Bussi--the
presence of numerous women of the Latin American sister countries; the
presence of the Arab women, and particularly of the delegation of the
heroic Palestinian people; the presence of the women of Indochina, among
them those of the thousand-times heroic Vietnamese people; [applause] of
the Korean women, of the women of the revolutionary, progressive people of
Africa; of the women of our sister socialist countries; and the
representation of the working women of Western Europe--telling us that
there has gathered here a representation of the entire world's noblest and
most just causes?

Beyond the oceans, frontiers and languages, representations of the entire
world have shaken hands in this congress. One cannot employ the term
foreigners to describe these delegations. For at every moment we have felt
that we are part of a self-same fatherland, a self-same country--the
universal fatherland, the human population. This demonstrates that nothing
separates peoples except exploitation and injustice, and nothing joins
peoples like a community of ideals and aspirations for justice.

The topics we have been taking up in this congress have a genuinely
universal interest It is not just a question of the problems of the Cuban
woman, but of the problems of the majority of women in the world. It
becomes evident that women need to participate in the struggle against
exploitation, against imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, and
racism--in two words, the struggle for national liberation. For when the
goal of national liberation is finally reached, women must keep fighting
for their own liberation within the human society. [applause]

We have brought here a few statistics concerning a report drafted by the UN
statistical department which reveal the status of women almost everywhere
in the world. Women represent 34 percent of those employed--in other words,
515 million. By the end of the present decade it is estimated that that
figure will rise by 600,000, and 842,000 by the year 2000.

In Western Europe and North America, women constitute between 30 and 40
percent of the labor force. Despite the growing number of women in the
working ranks, in private professional and technical positions, the UN
report indicates they are at a wage disadvantage with respect to men. The
report states that though it is true that legal barriers to equal
opportunity for employment of women are few, and that the principle of
equal pay for equal work is now universally accepted, the situation, in
practice, demands the urgent application of measures to eliminate such

In many industrialized countries, women's wages amount to approximately 80
percent of what men are paid for the same hours of work. And in developing
countries, the lower pay for women indicates they perform the work and jobs
of the lowest levels, in terms of expertise and pay. Generally, this report
dwells on the matter of wages. Of course, it does not touch on the infinite
number of problems affecting women in a society of classes in the
capitalist world.

And, of course, in the socialist countries woman has gone a long way down
the path of her liberation. But, with respect to our own situation, we who
are a socialist country, we who have covered almost 16 years of revolution,
can we perhaps assert that the Cuban woman has, in practice, acquired full
equality of rights and is absolutely integrated into Cuban society?

For instance, we can examine some data. Before the revolution, 194,000
women were employed. Of those, as has been indicated here in a report, 70
percent were in domestic jobs. At present we have three times that number
of women working. The number of women in state civil occupations--which, as
you know, involve the majority of productive activities, services, and
administration--is 590,000 of a total of 2,331,000 employed persons. In
other words, 25.3 percent of the workers are women. However, the number of
women holding directive positions in the entire apparatus of production,
services, and administration, amounts to only 15 percent.

In our party, the female militants amount to 12.79 percent. This is a
markedly low figure. And the number of women who work as cadres and
officials of the party is only 6 percent. But we have an even more
illustrative example. It pertains to the elections of the People's
Government organs in the province of Matanzas. The number of women
nominated as candidates was to 7.6 percent. And the number of women who
were elected was 3 percent--Comrade Demaraches referred to this.

The figures are actually something to preoccupy us--something for us to be
aware of. For in those elections the candidates were selected by the
masses. And the masses proposed only 7.6, better said, nominated only 7.6
percent women candidates, though women constitute 50 percent of the
population. And the masses elected only 3 percent women.

Can those who have observed this congress, guest delegates who have been
here with you for a week, suppose, imagine, or conceive that a movement of
women that is so strong, so politically advanced, elects only 3 percent
women in elections? And what do those figures reflect, except the reality
that after 15 years of revolution we are still politically and culturally
behind, in this aspect. It reflects the reality that there still persist
subjective and objective factors that preserve a situation of
discrimination with regard to women.

Naturally, if we compare our present situation to what existed before the
revolution, the gains are tremendous.

It is not even possible to make any comparison between the woman's
situation before the revolution and the situation women have in Cuba at
present. But the situation that did exist fully justified the creation of
the FMC. For our experience shows us that whenever an underdeveloped
country like ours liberates itself and starts building socialism, it is
necessary to organize a mass organization like this, for women must face
innumerable tasks within the revolutionary process.

That is why we believe that the decision to develop this feminine movement,
to create this organization that was born on 23 August 1960, was truly a
sound decision. For the work this organization has performed could not have
been done by other mechanisms. What would the party have done without this
women's organization? Certainly we have other mass organizations, such as
the unions, the committees for defense of the revolution [CDR] the peasant
organizations, the youth organizations, the student, the pioneer
organizations, and even the child-care organizations.

But what organization could have carried out the tasks accomplished by the
FMC? Comrade Vilma presented a splendid historical review of those
innumerable tasks. But in the first place, we need only recall the struggle
to develop the Cuban women's cultural and political level. For within the
capitalist society women fall culturally and politically behind. They
suffer from a much higher level of ignorance than men, and frequently,
women in a society of classes are exploited precisely because of that low
political level. And they usually are employed against the revolutionary

We need only recall that among those tasks [presumably reviewed by Vilma
Espin] there were very important ones: in the first place the struggle
related to the defense of the revolution and the fatherland, the struggle
against illiteracy, the struggle to educate the children of the peasants,
the struggle to train domestic workers for productive jobs, the struggle
against prostitution, the struggle to incorporate women into work, the
struggle to create the child-care centers.

Then too, regarding the tasks of supporting education, the public health
drives, social work, the deepening of ideological awareness, and the
struggle to develop an internationalist spirit in the heart of Cuban women,
the FMC has worked in all those fields--successfully fulfilling all its
tasks. Only women themselves could have been able to perform those
activities so successfully.

But now, in the present phase of the revolution women have a fundamental
task, a historic battle to wage. And what is that task? What is that
battle? Could you answer? What was the axle, the hub of the analyses and
efforts of this congress? The struggle for woman's equality: [applause] The
struggle to fully integrate the Cuban woman into society. And that truly is
a historic battle. And we believe that that goal is precisely the central
point of this congress, because in practice full equality of women does not
exist. [applause] We revolutionaries must understand this, and women
themselves must understand this. It is not a task for only women; it is a
task for the entire society. [applause]

No one should be apprehensive because there is talk of women's equality in
society. Some did become afraid [laughter] when the family code was
submitted for discussion. [applause] Blas [Roca] explained here the many
talks he has had with some comrades who did not understand, and he
summarized his ideas with a beautiful argument that man's happiness was
impossible without woman's happiness. [applause]

And we see no reason for anyone to fear because, as revolutionaries, what
we should really fear is having to admit the truth that women still do not
have full equality in Cuban society. [applause] What must concern us as
revolutionaries is that the task of the revolution is not yet complete.

Of course, there are objective and subjective factors in this lack of
equality and full integration. And, naturally, everything that obstructs
women's incorporation into work also makes the integration process
difficult. It makes difficult this process to attain full equality. And you
have seen that these problems come up when woman goes to work, when she
ceases to carry out the traditional and historical tasks.

While talking with some comrade delegates to this congress they expressed
great satisfaction and joy because during the days of this congress many of
their husbands stayed home taking care of the children so that they could
attend the congress. [applause] There is no doubt that such a problem would
never have come up in their homes if these women had not belonged to the
FMC and were carrying out these [FMC] tasks and if they were not militants
of the revolution, and if they were not participating in this congress. And
there would not have been the opportunity for such husbands to become aware
of such a need and duties.

Some of the objective factors that still make woman's improved status and
incorporation into work difficult were pointed out here. Some of these are
the lack of enough child care centers, semiboarding schools, scholarship
schools, and the problems related to school operating hours. To these we
can add factors such as the lack of enough jobs throughout the country so
that women can join the work force. And of course, the fact that many women
do not possess the qualification level required for productive work.

So far as child care centers and education are concerned in this order of
things, a still bigger effort--above the great efforts of the revolution in
recent years--will be undertaken in coming years and especially during the
1976-80 period, primarily to satisfy the growing educational needs of our
people and at the same time to facilitate woman's incorporation into work.
The current capacity of child care centers is about 50,000. The idea of
building 400 child care centers with national brigades, apart from those to
be built by microbrigades, will be considered in the first version of the
coming 5-year period plan [applause] in order to raise capacity to 150,000
children--in other words, three times more than we now have.

We also plan to build 400 semiboarding schools for 300 students each or its
equivalent, so as to raise capacity by 120,000 children, at least 1,000
intermediate schools with a capacity exceeding half a million scholarship
students in addition to the current capacity. Special attention also will
be given to a type of school you know is very important--these are the
special schools for students who have certain problems and difficulties. It
is planned to increase capacity for 40,000 new students for this type of
special education.

In the same way the revolution, in the next few years, will continue
developing the base of public health. Forty nine new hospitals, 110
polyclinics, 19 dental clinics, 51 homes for the elderly and 16 homes for
the handicapped will be built throughout the country.

Investments to be made in education and public health as a whole in the
coming 5-year period will be approximately 1.65 billion pesos. [applause]
We believe this is good news for FMC members. [applause] It does not mean
creating something new, but increasing the rate of construction. [applause]
More than 180 intermediate schools for 500 students each are being
constructed annually. The hospital construction plan already is in
progress. The first brigades for child care centers already are organized;
and the brigades for the plan to build 400 child care centers--the ones
that are lacking--and to build the special schools, polyclinics, homes for
the elderly and for the handicapped, and semiboarding primary schools will
be organized in 1975. This program is progressing and we are absolutely
certain that it can be carried through.

We could note during the discussions the enormous importance you give to
these problems, and especially the problems of education. It can be said
that much of the discussion in the congress centered on these matters.

Well then, our country is first among all Latin American countries in
education and public health. [applause] And we truly are only beginning. It
has been precisely in recent years that a big push has been given to
construction of schools.

The revolution has had to face many difficulties to carry through these
programs because there Here not enough installations, cadres, and teachers
to carry through the public health program. This is because the Yankees
took 3,000 of the 6,000 doctors we had. They took 3,000 of the 6,000
doctors we had, moat of them concentrated in Havana. This is one of the
many ways imperialists have to commit their crimes; because if in other
areas such as in Vietnam they use machineguns and bombs to kill the people,
here they wanted to take all the doctors so that the people would die.
[applause] The game way they blockaded and continue to blockade us to try
to starve the people to death.

Of course, now we have 9,000 magnificent doctors [applause]. Therefore,
already we can, with increasing quality, satisfy not only our medical
needs; but we have also been able to organize brigades of doctors to help
other sister countries. [applause] And in coming years we will graduate
about 1,000 doctors per year. [applause]

And some of these doctors will be able to provide their internationalist
services. [applause] And our medical services will increasingly improve in
quality. Diseases will be gradually overcome and some of them will be
eradicated. The comrade public health minister already has explained that
the infant mortality rate is 27.4 per 1,000 live births.

In Brazil, where death statistics are not even available, it is estimated
that the mortality rate could be between 150 and 200. Unfortunately, this
happens in many other Latin American countries. This means that for each
child who dies in Cuba, 4,5,6 or 7 die in other Latin American countries.
The same occurs in connection with many other problems, end in connection
with mortality in other ages. This is because we are talking about the
mortality rate in the first year, about medical attention in general, and
about education.

The comrade education minister explained the figures that reflect the
progress in education in Cuba, the totals of children in school, the
growing numbers who graduate from the sixth grade and the explosion we
already are experiencing at the intermediate level. This means that all the
construction we are carrying out is not enough. But in coming years the
problem will not only be the number of children in schools, but the quality
of our education. And the quality of our education will improve year by
year. The growing number of youths studying to be teachers and joining the
teaching detachment... [Castro leaves sentence incomplete]

Therefore, if already we hold first place in education-and public health
among Latin American countries, what will it be in 5 or 6 more years? What
will it be in future years with this rate of construction and our current
rate of progress? And this is the blockaded country, the country against
which the imperialists have committed their crime of blockade. We could ask
ourselves: A blockade, for what? And what has happened with the countries
they did not blockade? What has happened to their education? What has
happened to their public health? Now much illiteracy is there? How many
children do not go to school? How many children die every year for lack of
food, medicine, health services, and every thing? [applause]

Then, what did the imperialists want for the Latin American people? To
maintain this situation. And what did they want for Cuba? To prevent us
from doing what we are doing. And in the end, they have achieved something.
Yes, they have kept Latin America in its present shameful situation. But in
spite of all their crimes and blockaded, they have not been able to block
the social achievements of the Cuban revolution. [applause]

And these truths, these realities can no longer be hidden regardless of the
desperate efforts by the imperialists and their lackeys. These truths are
becoming known in the world. And what has remained of the Alliance for
Progress, if anyone remembers it? [laughter] Nothing. Frustration upon
frustration. However, the imperialists and their lackeys insist on
maintaining the blockade against Cuba, even if this represents going
against a great majority of Latin American countries.

This does not represent a problem for Cubs, but it does represent a problem
for the Yankee imperialists. The revolution moves forward and imperialism
moves backward, and the longer they maintain the blockade, the greater the
imperialists' infamy and the greater the merits of our people and
revolution. [applause]

The OAS: [laughter] It is not even mentioned. A few days ago they met and
no one paid any attention. [laughter] A group of Latin American countries
that do not even maintain relations with Cuba waged a struggle against the
blockade: Venezuela, Colombia and Costs Rica. The fact is that the Costa
Rican Government openly declared it was not worried so much about the
blockade against Cuba but about the sinking of the OAS and that if this
continued it would sink for good, that the OAS, the Inter-American Defense
Treaty [TIAR] and all that trash would come to an end.

But the truth is that especially Venezuela and Colombia waged a struggle,
supported of course by the growing number of friendly governments we have
in Latin America. Twelve Governments voted against the blockade, three
voted against [lifting it] [laughter] and what models of government these
are [laughter]--Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, the three typically fascist
governments in the continent and superdiscredited throughout the world. And
the Yankees? They abstained [laughter] simply so as not to cease being
pharisees and hypocrites. [applause] and Brazil abstained. [laughter]

Some of the things being told about the OAS and some governments in this
hemisphere are interesting. It is said that the promoters of the initiative
to end the blockade had the votes--15 votes. The Yankees have invented the
mechanism that a two-thirds vote is required. And the promoters of the
initiatives had 15 votes: the 12 which voted against the blockade, plus
Haiti, Guatemala and Bolivia. According to all reports, these latter ones
sold out shamelessly to the U.S. Government not to vote against, but the
new formula: they abstained. [laughter] In summary, three voted against,
[ending the blockade] six abstained:-which is something new, and 12 voted
against the blockade.

But according to the laws of imperialism, the blockade persists. Of course
we do not know what some governments which do not have relations and yet
voted against the blockade will do now in the face of this shameful
maneuver, this humiliation, this brazenness of the imperialists.

Some of these governments which abstained have sold out God knows how many
times. The Haitian case is historic. Their situation cannot be more
horrible: starvation, lack of culture, misery--the most frightful
calamities that can befall a people weigh on the Haitian people. They are
our neighbors. They sold out the last time and they sold out now. Every
time there is any meeting of this kid the Haitian Government begins to
think about how many votes there are on each side and how much it will get
paid for its vote. They sold out the last time and they sold out now.

This is what is called an international organization, a regional
organization. But all those who believe that, in effect, the OAS and the
TIAR are crumbling are absolutely right. And we can feel nothing but
satisfaction at seeing the OAS sink once and for all. [applause] and you
can be sure that we will never lift a finger to save it--if it is at all
possible to save a cadaver. Patiently and with perseverance we shall wait
until it finally sinks--now or at whatever time it chooses to sink once and
for all. And we will maintain our purposes and our principles because this
instrument of imperialism must disappear, and we know that if the present
governments do not make it disappear, the people will make it disappear
someday. [applause]

And I do not think that all of the governments of Latin America are right
now feeling great enthusiasm for the OAS. As the Latin American governments
assume a more independent and progressive position, they feel a greater
contempt for that institution.

However, the Cuban revolution must take into consideration the governments
that voted against the blockade, even if they do not maintain relations
with Cuba. And on this occasion we want to express to them our recognition
and our respect. [applause] And if any of these governments decides to
reestablish relations with Cuba, we will have no objection to
reestablishing those relations with them. [applause]

In the face of the imperialist crime and humiliation one can only respond
with a courageous gesture. And this is what history will write in the
future: which governments had enough determination to make a courageous
gesture at this time. [applause]

Why should we become impatient now that we are defeating them? Now that we
are obtaining victory? Now that, more than ever, and despite the blockade,
the country is progressing? Now that all our plans are made out with the
blockade in mind? With all those hospitals, polyclinics, schools, infant
centers and universities and everything planned with the blockade in mind?

I think our country can calmly and confidently continue its march ahead.
These 15 years have not gone by in vain. The revolution now enjoys a
security it never enjoyed before, the revolution was never as solid and has
never enjoyed its present rate of progress.

I have said this in order to refer to the objective factors that have
impeded women's integration, when speaking about schools, hospitals and so

Actually, I simply wanted to outline for you the ideas and projects related
to the solution of these problems. You hail from the entire country. Here
there are women from Guaney, Isla de Pinos, Havana Province, Matanzas,
Hatuey, Escambray, Sancti Spiritus [applause], Veguitas, Guantanamo
[applause], and you know how the schools of the revolution are springing up
everywhere, changing the outlook and life in our countryside [applause. We
will move along at this pace.

The matter of whether the same measures will be applied to the secondary
schools of the countryside and the day boarding schools [semi-internados]
has been raised here. Actually, there are some regions where all students,
absolutely all, are attending the basic secondary schools in the
countryside. This includes all students of this level. There are several
areas of the country where, of course, this problem no longer exists
because of students are attending them. The comrade minister of education
has explained all of the factors that had been making it difficult, keeping
in mind the idea that no student should be left without a place at the
corresponding medium-level school and no student who has completed grade
school should be left without a higher-level school, and the difficulties
entailed in applying the same principle to these schools. In any event, we
feel that something can still be done to benefit the children of working

In certain areas of provinces, one can see that often a complete school is
vacated to install a grade school and they have to find space for those
students of all [word indistinct].

These are just proposals, that is, the aspirations expressed here by some
delegates. At the same time, it also very just to take into account the
problems faced by the ministry, because its number one problem today is to
make all possible changes and combinations in order to fulfill the
objective that not a single sixth grade student be left without a school to

We also believe that, in the long run, a solution will have to be found for
the problem of teacher aides. We think the country will have to confront
the need to assign a number of women comrades to this task and, that we
will have to take into account the economic aspects and the rights that
will have to be granted to these aides.

Since there are now close to 600,000 women already working and an
additional 250,000 are expected to be added in the next 5 years, there will
be no other solution than to tackle the problems that will arise when the
primary schools and day boarding schools begin to operate, as well as the
problems related to the [word indistinct].

The matter of vacations has also been raised and we feel that the country
has the resources to tackle the problem of summer vacations. We are
building hundreds of basic secondary schools in the countryside and these
installations could be used for vacation programs. These are magnificent
installations and we are analyzing the possibility of using them in the
summer for vacation programs. Many of the problems you have raised here can
be gradually solved with what we already have on hand. And, in the long
run, sooner or later, we will overcome all of these problems that make it
difficult for women to join the work force as the best way to promote the
advancement of Cuban women toward their own liberation.

There are other matters that have been raised--at least in the debates of
the congress--such as the matter of laundries and so forth. However, we
will gradually overcome these material difficulties.

Now then, there still remain other problems we have referred to, of a
subjective nature. What are these problems of a subjective nature? The
problem of an old culture, old habits, outdated ideas and prejudices. There
are administrators who, for example, will not hire women when they can hire
a man, for a number of reasons. They start thinking of the job lists
[plantillas], of maternity problems and the problems a woman may face in
reporting for work. The reasons and factors are manifold. However, the fact
remains that women are discriminated against with regard to job

Resolution No 47--whereby a number of jobs, certain jobs, were frozen in
order to be assigned only to women--was passed. Then the problem was
analyzed at the workers congress. It was proposed that Resolution No 47 be
repealed and that Resolution No 48--which banned certain jobs for women--be
studied more intently. In any event, this problem must be tackled and not
by freezing these jobs. This had caused certain problems because many times
qualified personnel, that is qualified women, could not be found for the

At any rate, the jobs to be filled, preferably by women, must be specified
on the job lists of all working centers. The job lists of all new industry
and working centers must also be so designated. The party, labor, and mass
organizations to public offices must take into account--bearing in mind
their job requirements--whether the jobs which should preferably be filled
by women are actually filled by women. The jobs to be filled by women must
be clearly designated at each new factory inaugurated in any town in Cuba
in order to proceed to select and train these women in sufficient time.
[applause] It is necessary for the regulations and policies of the party
and the mass organizations to ensure that the possibilities for women
joining in the work be preserved and assured. First it is a matter of
justice and, second, it is an imperative need of the revolution, a demand
of our economic development--there are times when the male working force is
not sufficient. That is why it is necessary to stop employment
discrimination against women.

During the congress here you pointed to a number of difficulties the women
have, related to the home, child care, and outdated habits, and you
proposed formulas to overcome such difficulties. The investigations
conducted revealed negative attitudes on the part of the men, and even on
the part of some women, all of which required a special educational effort.

We believe that this struggle against discrimination against women, that
this struggle for women's equal rights and integration, must be carried out
by everyone. It is a primary task of our party, of our educational
institutions, and of all our mass organizations.

We were greatly pleased by the declarations made here in the name of our
youth, and their promise to overcome prejudice and the mental attitude of
subsistence. Perhaps these subjective factors may imply even a greater
struggle than the objective elements. But just as in the development of our
economy, the material difficulties will all be overcome, and someday we
will have all the required scholarships, and all the required services.

But let us ask ourselves when will all the thousands of ways of thinking be
eradicated; when will we be rid of all prejudice. We have no doubt of
course that such prejudice will be overcome. It appeared very difficult to
overcome the concepts of property that existed in our society prior to the
revolution. It was impossible to conceive of life without private property.
Today, it is impossible to conceive of life without the socialist property
of the means of production. [applause] [words indistinct] in which the
woman was a piece of property within the society. Such thinking habits must
be eradicated. We understand that the family code, which provoked so much
argument, is an important legal and educational instrument to help overcome
such habits and prejudice.

In order to attain such objectives, however, women and men must work
together. They both must seriously and deeply become aware of the problem.
They must struggle together. We are sure of their victory. And we believe
that you, too, are confident of that. [applause]

The accords of this congress will surely be important instruments in that
battle. We believe all resolutions are of great importance and value; the
resolutions on the working woman, the young woman, the peasant woman, the
housewives, and the role of the [word indistinct], the role of the family
in socialism, the special resolution on the woman's participation in
physical culture, recreation, and sports, the resolution on the woman's
international year, the resolution of solidarity--and we have interpreted
it as an appeal to the women of Cuba, Latin America, and the entire
world--with Chile.

All these resolutions are worthy of this congress, and we believe all these
documents must be collected and studied, not only within the federation,
but also by other mass organizations and by the party [applause] because
those resolutions constitute a true work program for this historic
struggle, for this historic battle you have ahead of you, for compliance
with this revolutionary duty. When our revolution is judged future years,
one of the matters on which we will be judged is the manner in which our
society and our fatherland solved the problems of women, [applause] Even
though it may be one of the revolution's problems calling for the greatest
tenacity, the greatest firmness, the greatest steadfastness and the
greatest effort.

All the prejudices--some time ago, we recalled what occurred in the Sierra
Maestra when we went to organize the Mariana Grajales platoon. We found
true resistance to the idea of arming that women's unit, and we recall how
much more backward we were some years ago. Some of us men believed that the
women would not be capable of combat. The fact is, the unit was organized,
and the women comrades fought excellently--with as much courage as the most
courageous of our soldiers. Nor was it the first time in history this
happened. During the clandestine struggle, women carried out innumerable
tasks that sometimes involved risks greater than the risks in the front
lines. And during World War II, in the wake of the fascist aggression on
the Soviet Union, thousands of women fought in the anti-war raid units, in
pursuit and bomber planes, and even with the guerrillas and on the front
lines. Nevertheless, the old prejudices try to impose themselves. And
nature made women weaker physically, but did not make her morally or
intellectually inferior to men. [applause]

It is society's duty to prevent these differences in physical strength from
becoming a cause of discrimination against women.

This is precisely the duty of human society, to establish the norms of
coexistence and justice for all. Of course, the exploiting society, the
society of classes of exploited women, discriminated against her and made
women victims of the system. The socialist society must erradicate all
forms of discrimination against women and all forms of injustice and all
forms of discrimination of any kind. [applause]

But women also have other functions within society. Women are the natural
workshop in which life is forged. They are par excellence the creators of
the human being. And I say this because, far from being the object of
discrimination and inequality, women deserve special consideration from
society. I am staying with this point because there is something that we
should bear in mind: the struggle for equality, the conquest of equality,
women's full integration into society should never turn into reason to be
inconsiderate toward women, to lose the respect for women which all women
deserve. [applause] There are some people who confuse equality with
rudeness. [applause] And if women are physically weaker, if women must be
mothers in addition to their social obligations, if in addition to their
work they carry the responsibility for reproduction, of carrying in their
womb the unborn child--all the human beings who are to come into the
world--and if they must endure the physical and ideological sacrifices
these functions entail, it is fair that society show women all the respect
they deserve and all the consideration they deserve. [applause] If there is
to be any privilege within human society, if there is to be any sort of
inequality in human society, there should be some small privileges, some
small inequality in favor of women. [applause]

And I say this clearly and frankly because there are some men who believe
they do not have to give their seat to a pregnant woman or to an aged woman
traveling in a bus, of to a little girl in a bus or to women of any age
traveling in a bus. Just as I understand that it is the duty of any youth
to give his seat to an older person, so it is the same on a bus. It is that
elemental sense of obligation we have toward the others. In a bus, in a
productive job, or in a truck, there should always be special consideration
toward the others, for one reason or another. And this should be so toward
women because, physically, they are weaker and because they must carry out
tasks--they have functions and burdens men do not have. [chanting and

That is why we appeal to our teachers, to parents, to our youth
organizations and pioneers to pay special attention to these norms of
conduct in children, these norms of conduct in our youth. It would be very
sad if with the revolution there did not remain even the reminiscence of
what some men did in the bourgeois societies because of bourgeois and
feudal chivalry. And measured against bourgeois and feudal chivalry,
proletarian chivalry should exist--[applause] proletarian courtesy,
proletarian urbanity and proletarian consideration for women. And I say
this with the assurance that the people understand and share this, with the
assurance that each mother would like her son to be that little proletarian
gentleman [applause] and that chivalrous and considerate man toward women,
capable of making a little sacrifice--which does not dishonor any man but,
on the contrary, exalts him and makes him the better for it. [applause]

And I say this at the closing of this congress in which the matter of the
struggle for the equality and integration of women becomes the center of
Cuban women's political and revolutionary activity for the years to come.
And so that there will be no confusion between one thing and the other, I
say what I truly feel.

We constantly find verbal and linguistic forms of discrimination against
women and here, [word indistinct] Agapito Figueroa, on behalf of the
workers, [words indistinct] the discriminatory terminology that was used:
"We have to be careful, boss, because sometimes [words indistinct] look
very pretty."

Woman must be man's companion, but it could be said that man should be
woman's companion [applause]. There is the linguistic habit of always
placing man at the center. And this inequality reflects an inequality in
thinking habits. Nevertheless, the least important thing, in the last
analysis, would be the language [applause and cheers]. The least important
thing would be the words. Sometimes words recall something from the past
even if they no longer have the same meaning. What is really important are
the facts.

We have been impressed by many things in this congress. As always, and most
important, by the joy, the interest in history, and most particularly by
the political level reflected in this congress--because this congress
reflected the political development of Cuban women. We were impressed by
the cadres that are emerging in the Cuban women's movement, the mental
alertness, the profoundity, self-assurance, and leadership reflected by the
delegates to this congress.

I know that our guests were impressed at seeing the comrade minister
arguing with you and you with the minister. They were impressed at the
great candor, ease, and spontaneity that prevailed in the discussions. Of
course, there was not much discipline. We were not so impressed by these
things because we are all now accustomed to them. (?We find) nothing
extraordinary in the minister or anyone else arguing with you or with the
masses at a students or workers congress, anywhere, and giving a thousand
and one explanations, if necessary, to the masses [applause and cheers].

The strength of the revolution lies in this closeness and identification
between the masses and the government; between the masses and the state;
between the masses and the authorities. This is what gives an invincible
strength to the revolution: the fact that the masses (?can do anything) in
the state, the government, which is theirs and not something belonging to
others, something alien, a strange thing; that none of us can look upon the
posts, functions or authority as private property [applause].

Anyway, we have been very pleased at seeing how our guests have [words
indistinct] about the type and nature of the congress. I, in particular,
was impressed at the progress achieved by Cuban women, their present
political knowledge and the values that are emerging among the masses. I
was pleased to see--and I am sure this was the case with the other
comrades--the brilliant leadership that has taken shape, the great cadres
and the leadership of this movement headed by Comrade Vilma Espin
[applause], its experience, sobriety, and profoundity which are matched by
human qualities, and to see that this type of cadres and leadership are
emerging in the provinces, regions, and municipalities, and to see how the
working masses have sent such exceptionally fine and brilliant delegates to
this congress [applause]. We are pleased to see the impact the revolution
has had on women [applause].

We are pleased to verify the revolutionary quality of Cuban women
[applause], their self denial and discipline; their enthusiasm and passion
for the revolution; their ideas about the just cause of Cuban women, by
which they show their virtues which--as we have said on previous
occasions--are the virtues demanded of militant revolutionaries [applause].
Women possess them to a high degree. That is why we believe that our party
should nourish itself from this force.

In the Cuban women the revolution today has a real army, an impressive
political force. [applause] That is why we maintain that the revolution is
simply invincible. [applause] When a woman acquires that level of political
culture and revolutionary militancy, it means the nation has taken a
significant political step forward, that our people have surpassed
themselves, and that our country's drive into the future cannot be stopped
by anyone. The spirit evidenced today must constantly grow. That is why the
revolution is so strong--because of its mass organizations, the people's
political awareness, and because of its vanguard party.

There is something worthy of mention in one of the resolutions adopted by
your congress: the resolution of the monthly pound of sugar for 1 year.
[applause and chanting] That initiative was born spontaneously from the
masses. [applause] Nobody in the government suggested or proposed that this
be requested from the people. On one occasion, when the problem of Chile
was raised--when we learned of its economic difficulties--the party and the
government set forth to the people the need to make an effort to help that
country. On that occasion, as soon as we spoke about the serious drought,
and the need to make use of the crop, and the high prices of sugar, in many
places citizens spontaneously and simultaneously started talking about the
need to cut down on our sugar consumption. [Word indistinct] evidently many
persons figured out that domestic sugar consumption at present prices
exceeded $500 million.

This initiative spontaneously came from the masses. And we believed that if
a problem is brought to the attention of the masses and an agreement is
reached, then the decision must be accepted as good, as correct. But much
more important than the sugar that could be collected and the value of
sugar was the gesture of our people, the concern shown by the people for
revolutionary matters. Nothing like this happens in a capitalist nation.

They have problems with inflation, with depression, and everything else.
They have problems with the cost of living and strikes of all kinds. There
is a situation there that prevents the masses from taking such spontaneous
initiatives. We believe that such initiatives should be discussed by all
mass organizations and assemblies so that they map truly reflect a
unanimous sentiment of the people. [applause]

That would mean some 50,000 more tons of sugar to export. It would mean at
the present prices some $40 to $50 million. Many things can be done with
$50 million. The congress referred, for example, to 100 schools. Each
school costs approximately $1 million. With that kind of money we can build
a textile factory that could produce 60 million square meters of textiles
yearly, over 6 square meters per capita yearly.

The first part of the 5-year plan, in addition to the expansion of the
present textile manufacturing capacity to some 100,000 square meters,
envisions the construction of three additional factories, because it is
evident that textile production per capita is a problem that we must try to
solve as soon as possible. We are not thinking of [word indistinct]
societies; but we undoubtedly need some clothes. [applause] We need more
sheets, pillow-cases, towels and so forth--not only clothes for us to wear,
but also for the beds to wear. [applause and laughter] We know the limit
per capita on all this, which unfortunately we have been unable to raise.

The next 5-year plan, however, provides for the elimination of these
deficiencies. Unfortunately, this process takes years. In other things, we
are progressing at a much faster paces but in the textile industry we are
somewhat behind. But one of the three factories included in the plan
already mentioned could be purchased with the money produced with that

Many things can be obtained, useful things for the people. The 50,000 tons
substantially helps the 1976-80 plan for 1 year. Some comrades speak in
terms of more time. We feel, however, that the correct time is what you
have estimated--1 year--as it coincides with the 2 years of heavy drought
which we endured, which, of course, affected production. We would have had
much greater production without these 2 years of drought, particularly the
last drought--proof of which is the fact that dams across the nation were
dry at the end of spring. This never happened before. If it had not been
for the effort made in agriculture, no one can tell what the effects might
have been. That the impact was not worse was due to the magnificent work
accomplished in sugar cane farming. In a normal year under other
conditions, it would not even have been necessary. But the people's acumen
in understanding it; a drought year, the price like never before. Why?
Because sugar now has a respectable price, and naturally, this helps us and
makes us rejoice. In 1970 we attempted to make 10 million an were unable
to. But the '75 harvest, at the present price, is the 20-million harvest.

Of course, this does not mean we are suddenly going to become millionaires.
[laughter] If more income comes in it must be used well. Because it must be
borne in mind that the price of sugar was sometimes 3 cents, 2 and one half
cents, and we had to accept that without affecting consumption, without
affecting anything. And now, we have higher prices. This helps to adjust
our finances, to consolidate our economy. It does not mean that we will
consume it now. No. [We must] work for development. I think we understand
this clearly, do we not? It is not a case of living like rich people for 1
year, but building the future. You can see that those who blockaded us now
have no sugar. [shouts] How much do the imperialists have to pay for sugar
in the year '75? Billions of dollars. So they are not only going to have to
pay high prices for petroleum, they are also going to have to pay a high
price for sugar. Yankee imperialists have to pay billions of dollars. The
blockade is their own affair. While sugar remains at these prices, we will
be very happy. Now they are going around putting up little labels over
there "do not use sugar," and they are going to go back to using sweeteners
again, but sweeteners cause cancer. Then, they cannot decide what to do and
must pay high, high, high prices for sugar.

[applause] Of course, it is not Cuban sugar. Cuban sugar has markets, and
very good ones at that. We are not in a hurry to sell sugar to the Yankees.
If some day it is convenient for them to buy it, well, we have not
blockaded them. [laughter] We will sell them the sugar. Closer, less
transportation...well, a portion of the sugar, because we have our sugar
commitments which we must meet first of all. But the blockade... They are
now self-blockaded in sugar. And the nation continues to progress, to do
well, and improve on all fronts.

Well now, this contribution of yours is your share, it is a help that has
an important material significance. But it is still more important from the
moral perspective. This is called political conscience. This is called
revolutionary conscience. This is called ideological depth. And after this,
who is going to deceive us? Who is going to tell us stories? [shouting] Who
is going to force us to deviate? [crowd shouts "nobody"] Nobody. And each
year that passes will be better. Each year that passes, we will have a more
cultured, more conscientious, more revolutionary and more internationalist
people. [applause]

So, these are the impressions we take back from this historic congress. We
believe you too are happy, [shouts] that you too are satisfied, that you
are proud of the congress. [shouts] I can say that we, our party is also
proud of the congress, are satisfied with the congress. [applause and
rhythmic chants]

You say that you have learned from us; but the truth is that we have
learned much more from you. [shouts] What we learn from the people or what
we learn from the masses... because they always renew and strengthen our
trust, our faith, our revolutionary enthusiasm. You help educate us. And
when I say "us," I do not only mean as leaders of the party, I also mean as
a man. [shouts and applause followed by chants]

You help us all--all men, all revolutionaries--to become more clearly aware
of these problems. You help the party and you help the leaders of the
revolution, a party in which there is an extremely high percentage of men
in the leadership, [laughter] a government in which there is an extremely
high percentage of men; so high, that it looks as though it were a party of
men [laughter] and a state of men, a government of men [laughter].

A leadership of men and women [applause], a state of men and women
[applause] and a government of men and women [applause]--I believe that all
of the comrades are aware that this is a need of the revolution, society
and history. The great contemporary revolutionaries--Marx, Engels,
Lenin--always understood a woman's role. Lenin said something that has been
repeated here enough: that the people's complete victory would not be
achieved unless women's full liberation was achieved. Marti, the apostle of
our independence, had very high ideas about women and said not only very
beautiful but very profound and revolutionary things about them, such as
when he said that the campaigns of the people are weak only when women's
hearts are not enlisted, because when women are aroused and help, when they
give encouragement and applause, when--cultured and virtuous-[words
indistinct] a cause with the sweetness of their smile, the cause is
invincible [applause]; when he said that woman's natural nourishment is
something extraordinary; or when he said that a woman of instinct envisions
truth and (?anticipates) it; or when he explained that a woman will live
side by side with man as his companion and not at his feet like a beautiful
toy [applause]. Let us be worthy followers of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and
Marti [applause]. I know that your just aspirations and just ideals, Cuban
women, will deeply touch the hearts of the revolutionaries and the entire
people. Fatherland or death. We will win: [applause]