Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Speech

Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 1525 GMT 9 Apr 75 FL

[Speech by Prime Minister Fidel Castro at Cuban-Guyanese friendship rally
in honor of visiting Guyanese Prime Minister Forbes Burnham in Cienfuegos,
Las Villas Province--live]

[Text] My dear Comrade Forbes Burnham, prime minister of the Guyanese
Cooperative Republic, comrades of the Guyanese delegation, workers and
students of Cienfuegos. [chanting, singing]

We are gathered at this warn noontine--warm because of the sun and warm
because of the fraternal spirit reigning here and the enthusiasm of
Cienfuegos people [shouts] to hold this event of friendship between Cuba
and Guyana. The visit of this delegation from the sister country of Guyana
headed by Forbes Burnham is an important event and an honor for us Cubans.

There are many reasons why these bonds of friendship are developing between
the two countries. But above all we bear in mind the Guyanese Government
actions in which it has proven its feelings of solidarity with the Cuban
revolution. You know very well the history of these past years, the history
of blockades and isolation of our country imposed by Yankee imperialism, to
whose dictates almost all countries adhered, and especially the governments
of Latin America. This isolation is progressively disappearing, and more
and more Latin American governments are resuming diplomatic relations with
Revolutionary Cuba.

But we must bear much in mind the position of the Caribbean
English-speaking countries. This group of countries, Caribbean like ours,
geographically small like ours, acquired its independence a short time ago.
Guyana, for example, acquired it barely 10 years ago. For centuries they
lived under British colonialism. These are countries with very recent
independence. But obviously the Caribbean English-speaking countries did
not acquire the bad habit of Latin American governments which historically
had a terrible fear of Yankee imperialism.

To establish diplomatic relations with Cuba was a challenge to imperialism.
However, the Caribbean English-speaking countries made that challenge,
specifically, during a meeting of leaders of those countries in Trinidad in
October 1972, the prime minister of the Guyanese Cooperation Republic
proposed joint establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. [applause]
Therefore our Caribbean English-speaking neighbors beat our continental
Spanish-speaking neighbors [applause] in this movement to break the
isolation and blockade of our country.

At the same time, those governments strongly condemned the policy of
blockade against Cuba. And on these bases relations between Cuba and that
group of countries are developing.

With regard to Guyana, relations have been developing at a growing rate. We
signed an air agreement with them, which I understand was one of the first
of such agreements the Guyanese Cooperative Republic has made. We have
established scientific-technological agreements with then, and we are
working together in the development of the fishery industry.

We remember and we are deeply grateful for the fact that Prime Minister
Burnham invited us to visit his country on the eve of the nonalined
conference in Algiers. We had the opportunity there [in Guyana] to
establish contacts with the Guyanese people--an enthusiastic, militant
people who are in solidarity with our revolution. We had the opportunity to
observe the efforts of the Guyanese people, the way in which their workers
were administering the first bauxite industry to be nationalized by the
government under a policy aimed at recovering natural resources. We had the
opportunity to note the great efforts of the Guyanese people for their
development under the difficult conditions left by colonialism in all our

The history of these Caribbean countries is very similar--the discovery,
conquest, centuries of economic exploitation, extermination of the native
population, the establishment of the system of slavery, the most ruthless
exploitation and the resultant poverty of the masses. We attained formal
independence long before Guyana did. But you know perfectly well that Cuba
went from the stage of Spanish colonialism to that of domination by Yankee
imperialism until the triumph of the revolution in 1959 when we finally
attained full independence. [applause]

The national origins of our peoples are similar. Even though the Caribbean
English-speaking countries have a different language, we are very much
alike in all other things. We all were exploited by the monopolies. We all
were forced to produce much cane and much sugar to enrich the foreign
exploiters. We all had to work very hard exploiting the natural resources
for the benefit of the foreign exploiters. We all received the same
inheritance of underdevelopment and poverty. We all have had similar
problems in culture, illiteracy, unemployment, lack of medical services and
lack of the most fundamental elements needed to survive. We all are facing
the sane task of developing the country.

Some time ago we nationalized the sugar mills, cane plantations, mines,
industries and all the natural resources. The Republic of Guyana is also on
the path to recovering its natural resources. They have already
nationalized the bauxite industry, which is their most important mining
wealth. They are also making a great effort in education and public health.
They propose to continue a policy of recovery of their natural resources
and of developing the country.

There are other similarities between the Commonwealth republic of Guyana
and Cuba, one of them being its foreign policy. Like us, they belong to the
movement of nonalined countries as a clear anti-imperialist concept. And in
the fundamental problems of the world, the Commonwealth republic of Guyana
and Cuba have a common position, as in their support of the Arab countries
against imperialist aggression and in their support for Vietnam and its
heroic struggle for national independence. In the past we actively
supported the struggle of the African nations against Portugese
colonialism; and we also maintain a similar position with respect to the
struggle against the racial policy of South Africa.

There is a great similarity in the foreign policies of Guyana and Cuba, and
these are factors which justify the strengthening of relations between our
two countries.

Trade between Cuba and Guyana is also developing. They have large
quantities of timber, vast woodlands. We could add that they have colossal
rivers. They export timber and we are a country that needs timber--we are
importers of timber. On occasions they have had a need for cement and, even
though we do not have surpluses of cement, as you all well know, we have
exported cement to the Republic of Guyana, and on the other hand we have
been forced to import cement. [applause]

On occasions we have also imported from Guyana part 3f the rice that we
consume. They are important producers of rice. They have vast plains and
lots of water. These are the essential factors for the cultivation of rice.
They supply their needs and export certain quantities as well. They propose
to continue to develop rice production. They have great experiences with
rice and are willing to share their knowledge and experiences in rice

They also produce cane, not the large quantities produced by Cuba, but it
constitutes an important commodity in Guyana's exports. They propose to
continue to develop cane production. They have shown great interest in our
experiences in mechanization and we are willing to share them. [applause]

The population of Guyana is relatively small, not quite 1 million
inhabitants. On the other hard, they have more than twice the land mass of
our country. This means that in the degree that they develop, manpower will
be insufficient, as happened in Cuba. Thus they will need to mechanize to
the maximum their agricultural and industrial activities.

I spoke about Guyana's cane production. You have no idea of how the
harvests are worked there. Their cane plantations are located in very low
lands. There the outside boundaries of the plantations are not roads or
paths, but canals. It could be called something like a Venice of cane.
[laughter] They burn the cane also, mainly to protect the workers against
harmful animals. They cut the cane and carry it to launches, yes launches.
They do not transport it in carts or trucks. They take it to the launches
and then to sugar mills on the canals.

A tractor pulls several canoes full of sugarcane to the sugar mill. We were
very much surprised at the conditions, so different, under which they grow
and harvest sugarcane. Unlike us, who at times suffer from severe droughts
such as in the past 2 years, they have excess water. Even part of the rice
lands are below sea level. This forces them to build dikes and polders to
take advantage of the land.

But their [principal] characteristics are enormous rivers, whose hydraulic
energy they will be able to exploit in future years, and excess water. That
is why they cultivate sugarcane under conditions very different from ours.
The fields are relatively small, all of them surrounded by canals. Of
course they also have high ground. But in any case they are interested in
the future mechanization of sugarcane farming.

There are many possible points of cooperation between Guyana and Cuba, in
the economic development of our respective countries as well as in foreign
policy. These friendly relations, so friendly, with Caribbean
English-speaking countries should be translated in the future into specific
economic integration programs. And every time we raise the matter of future
Latin American integration, we never forget to mention also the Caribbean
English-speaking countries [applause] because it is our duty to struggle
for the economic and even political integration of Latin American
countries, including the Caribbean English-speaking countries.

Our peoples have the duty of uniting and closely cooperating among
ourselves and against the colonialist, neocolonialist and imperialist
policy of domination which the United States established over our peoples.

These are the bases for the friendship and relations between the people
whose representatives are visiting us now and the Cuban people. These are
the reasons that justify the warmth and enthusiasm of our welcome to the
Guyanese delegation. [applause] And these are the reasons which explain and
Justify our growing future cooperation.

Comrade Burnham, today we find ourselves in the Cienfuegos region of
southern Cuba [applause], in its central province. Cienfuegos has a long
patriotic tradition going back to the times of the struggle for
independence. At the sane time Cienfuegos has a long tradition of struggle,
with active participation in our most recent revolutionary struggle for
definitive national liberation.

When we were fighting hard in the Sierra Maestra in September 1957, the
Cienfuegos naval garrison joined with the Cienfuegos people and rebelled
against the tyranny [applause] to support our revolutionary struggle, They
participated in and wrote a page of exceptional heroism. They fought
against numerically superior forces for an enter day. They caused
innumerable casualties to the Batista army and, at the same time, they paid
for their heroic gesture with the loss of many lives.

Cienfuegos is an enthusiastic working city and one of the country's areas
called upon to acquire greater industrial development. It is not a ease of
the revolution showing favoritism toward Cienfuegos, it is nature which has
given Cienfuegos privileges by endowing it, above all, with one of the
country's best bays [applause], magnificent agricultural and sugarcane
lands [applause], and other natural resources.

History has been especially partial to Cienfuegos by allowing development
of a magnificent people in this area. [applause] All thee factors determine
the explosive industrial development of this area now and in future years.
Of course this also implies a very serious commitment to the nation and the
obligation to work very hard to assumed the responsibilities of that
development. [applause]

Besides, we believe that the people of Cienfuegos, the inhabitants of
Cienfuegos city, who number some 85,000, according to the last count,
because Cienfuegos also is growing rapidly [laughter], possibly are not
enough for all the economic activities to be developed in future years and
they will require the cooperation of the rest of Las Villas Province.

An important thermoelectric industry, which will have to be further
expanded in future years, was built in this city. This large warehouse bulk
sugar terminal, which can handle up to 2 million tons per year, was built
in this city. [applause] In order to load sugar, a 10,000 dwt vessel
required 150 workers over a period of several weeks under the old loading
system. Now a 10,000 dwt vessel can be loaded in this port with a very
small group of workers, not more than 18 workers, in 14 hours and even
less. [applause]

Of course, before the triumph of the revolution, with the enormous rate of
unemployment, it was totally impossible to build a warehouse for bulk
sugar, to acquire the technology and raise work productivity. But with the
Cuban socialist revolution, the scourge of unemployment disappeared and the
paths to developing technology and raising work productivity are wide open.
Without the revolution, this would have been impossible and no one would
have agreed on building such a warehouse as this.

Our first large fertilizer plant was built here in Cienfuegos. There was a
smaller one in Matanzas. This is our first large nitrogenous fertilizer
plant. [applause] This plant has more than 1,000 excellent workers and a
large number of university technicians who have worked very hard to
overcome the difficulties that were encountered when we started operation.
These difficulties were mainly due to the deficiency of the equipment
furnished by the British, or let us say the British firm in charge of
preparing the plans and furnishing the equipment. The difficulties were
many, but our workers have progressively overcome them. And the country has
adopted the necessary measures to reach the highest level of production at
this plant. At the present time this work center is producing a
considerable amount of fertilizer for our agriculture. [applause] They
expect to reach a production level of 200,000 tons by the end of this year.

An important wheat mill, a corn Bill and a fishing fort [applause] are
under construction in the port of Cienfuegos, Buildings for the
construction industry have also been built here. Also under construction is
a cement plant with a capacity of 11/2 million tons per year. [applause]
Another important industry for the manufacture of irrigation equipment
[applause] is also under construction. In 1977 construction of the first
Cuban nuclear power plant will begin here. Besides, right in this area,
sometime in the future, construction will begin on a new large nitrogenous
fertilizer plant as well as a large oil refinery and our petrochemical
industry next to the refinery. [applause]

These are the facts Justifying that naming this place the Cienfuegos
Industrial Zone, although all the industries will not be located here,
because the cement plant will be located at the site where the foundations
are located. There will be industries located in other parts of the city.

There is also an important social development under way, a magnificent
teacher-training school has been built. [applause] The Cienfuegos masses
are building a beautiful sports stadium with their own efforts. They are
also building at the same time a large hospital with 620 beds. [applause]
They have built recreation areas, such as the Pancho Luna beach buildings
and the road to that site At the entrance to the bay, which is one of the
most beautiful places in Cuba, they are building a very modern hotel and a
motel is under construction at Pancho Luna. [applause] They propose to
continue working in that direction.

Around Cienfuegos there many basic secondary rural schools are under
construction [applause] In the city polytechnic schools are under
construction. [applause] and also, the microbrigades of Cienfuegos are
building many housing units. [applause]

And many thousands of housing units will he required in future years to
absorb the work force that Cienfuegos needs. Its students are of top
quality, [shouts, applause] his preuniversity school in front of us
[shouts, applause] won first place nationally in promotions in the last
school year. [shouts, chanting, applause] It had 100 percent graduation.
[shouts, chanting, applause] These facts speak highly of the working spirit
and revolutionary morale of the citizens of this region. [applause]

We are certain we will always recall the visit of Comrade Burnham and the
Guyanese delegation as a historic event. [applause, chanting: "Cuba,
Guyana, united as sisters"] They have acclaimed you with a beautiful
slogan; Cuba, Guyana, united as sisters [applause] a slogan that, besides
being poetic, is profoundly revolutionary and internationalist [applause],
which is a reflection of our people.

We are certain this city of Cienfuegos will be increasingly more
revolutionary [applause] and it will be equal to the responsibilities the
revolution has given it. [applause]

A big job is awaiting the people of Cienfuegos, and above all, their youths
[applause] and they sag: It does not matter.

Some of the will be teachers, others technicians, engineers, doctors, and
above all, all will be workers well qualified in all their fields.
[applause] Some will have to study in universities of other provinces and
some will have to study broad. But we are certain that all of them will
return to Cienfuegos [applause] to fulfill their obligations in Cienfuegos
for the development of Cienfuegos, for the development of the country, and
for the triumph of the revolution. [applause]

Long live the closest and lasting friendship between the peoples of Guyana
and Cuba. [applause, shouts of "viva"] Fatherland or death! We will win
[applause, shouts of "venceremos"]