Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 1510 GMT 18 Jul 76 FL

[Speech by Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro at the dedication ceremony at
Ismaelillo Pioneer's Camp in Las Villas Province on 18 July 1876--live]

[Text] Distinguished guests, comrades of the Central Committee and the
government, dear Pioneers: Our party decided to hold the central event of
this year's Children's Day in this camp.  For all of us, marking this
commemoration with buildings such as we can observe here today is of
enormous satisfaction.  This camp was practically completed just a few
hours ago.

[Aside] Can you here me all right?  There must be something wrong with
either the equipment or maybe myself. [audience response indistinct]

The green areas have not yet been completed.  Spring must come before the
camp become more beautiful.  But is has been a great effort.  Less than 2
years ago, in December 1974, there was practically nothing here.  It was a
beautiful place, a more or less nice beach.  Because, as you all know,
there is no great abundance of beaches along the province's southern coast,
excepting the famous El Ancon Beach and a few small beaches near El
Escambray.  But the place appeared to be suitable for the establishment of
the Pioneer's camp for the central region of the country.

Construction of the camp began approximately 15 months ago.  By working
very hard the construction workers of the country's central region were
able to complete the project to commemorate Children's Day in this place.
Many construction workers cooperated in this project.  At times during the
final phase of work, more than 2,000 workers were engaged in this project.

This project was started by a construction brigade formed by communist
youths who had no construction experience when they began working.  Now we
find ourselves here observing the beautiful results of that work.  They
have built 29,544 square meters of covered installations.  They have
prepared 54,865 square meters of sports and recreational areas.  And, they
have delivered with this camp as a whole a total area of 520,000 square
meters.  The project was prepared by a group of architects from this
central area of the country and has a total of 184 buildings.

The first camp of this type was build in Camaguey at Santa Lucia Beach, and
can accommodate some 3,000 children.  That one was completed 4 years ago.
Last year, on Children's Day precisely, the first phase of the work at the
Jose Marti Camp was dedicated.  This one has a capacity for 5,000 children
and it has already been enlarged to accommodate 10,000 children.  It will
probably be further enlarged sometime in the future to a capacity for
20,000 children.

In the first case, the Camaguey Camp, the idea was simple--to build cabanas
for groups of children, and installations for services and recreational
facilities.  At the Jose Marti Camp, the existing housing facilities were
used and the sports areas and a central kitchen were built.  Here in the
southern part of this region, an idea simular to the Santa Lucia Beach was
used for a beginning; that is, to build houses, groups of houses or cabanas
to be used for housing purposes and having common facilities for different
activities such as a dining area, a central kitchen and this main building
for various activities.  That is, an effort has been made to build things
but it is unquestionable that the plans have been improved and perfected.

What we would really like to see is for all the regions of the country, all
the old provinces at least and--if it became possible someday--the new
provinces also to have camps such as this one.  Unfortunately, our country
doe snot have the resources to give this plan greater impetus.  We have to
do it little by little.  Oriente's region does not yet have a Pioneer's
camp of this type, nor does Pinar del Rio region.  As you all know, five
new provinces have been created in Oriente.  Thus, a part of Cuba with 3.5
million inhabitants does not year have a camp of this type.  Pinar del Rio
does not have it either.  This is one of the present provinces that can be
considered among the bigger ones, that is, among the new provinces.

Matanzas already has the international camp at least.  This is a beautiful
international camp which is about to be completed, or almost completed. it
is in such a condition that, even though it might not be officially
dedicated this year, it will be so advanced by August that it will be able
to lodge many children.  The international camp has a capacity for 1,000

That is why it can be said that we are just beginning in this field.  There
are still many Pioneer's camps to be built throughout the width and length
of the country.  This will be a task that will unfortunately take many
years.  Because, as you well know, besides this type of construction
project, and even projects having priority over this one, we must build
schools, many schools.  You know this.  A large number of schools are being
build annually.  Nevertheless, we do not have enough schools.  By next
school term, we will have 700,000 students.  This is due to the large
number graduating, the high levels of promotion that we have been having at
the primary level.

You can well imagine what it means to build schools where more than 700,000
intermediate level student can study.  As you know, we have a need for
primary schools.  That is, many primary schools are still located in
buildings which are in very poor condition.  Some of them, of course, are
in modern buildings but others are not.  What has really been created
already are the teaching slots and the classrooms needed so that every
child can study.  We do have all the needed school material and all the
teachers required so that every child can study.  The revolution has really
created the opportunity for all children to have a primary and also a
secondary education, and for those who have the capacity to have a
university education.

But due to all these reasons, due to all the construction projects that
must be completed such as hospitals, and mainly due to the effort that must
be made for the economic development of the country, our revolution cannot
do what it would like so much to do, which is to build many camps such as
this one as soon as possible.

But the children of this central region finally have their camp.
Represented in these 10,000 Pioneers are the children of the former Las
Villas Province, which now has become the provinces of Villa Clara,
Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus in accordance with the new
political-administrative division. [applause] So that, even though this
camp is located in the Cienfuegos region, it will not be just for the
children of Cienfuegos. [applause] It will be a camp for the three
provinces. [applause] If at some time in the future we can build other
camps in the northern and eastern parts of the old Las Villas Province,
then each province will have its own camp and the number of children who
can enjoy their vacations in this type of installations will be greater.

The camp now has a capacity--which I believe is the ultimate capacity--for
4,620 children.  It also has a capacity for lodging 264 Pioneer guides and
100 workers. [applause] This means that in 1 week, in 7 weeks more than
30,000 children of this region will be able to enjoy part of their vacation
in this camp.  But besides, as you known, this camp is not to be used just
during vacation, it will also be used during school term.  This means that
entire schools can come here for periods of 15 days.  Naturally, this does
not mean that school in its entirety because the camp has been designed in
such a way that some of the rooms can be made into classrooms and others
will be used for lodging. [applause]

Thus, every 15 days during the school term some 2,700 children may come to
this camp; that will be its capacity during the school term.  They will be
able to use the sports areas, the beaches and at the same time study in the
classrooms.  They will come to this camp with their teachers. [applause]
This means that during the school term, some 50,000 children of this region
will be able to visit the camp.  In those cases, it will be for 15-day
periods.  That is, as a whole some 80,000 children will be able to enjoy
this camp annually. [applause] It is possible that some of them will come
during the summer and when their schools come here during the school term.
As you know, the enjoyment of the camp will be gained through emulation.
It will be made available to the students in accordance with their merits.
The same thing will be the case with the schools.  The schools will come to
the camp throughout the term in accordance with the schools' merit.  That
is, the enjoyment of the camp constitutes a prize for the children in
accordance with their efforts and in accordance with their merits.

Now, we know these camps have an enormous social importance.  We know the
enormous joy with which the relatives of each of you receive the news that
their children have been rewarded with a visit to the camp. [applause] We
also know that many mothers and relatives offer to help in the camp's
activities when their children are in it.  Unfortunately, as I have said,
we cannot now do the same thing for all the children in the country, but
the day will come when all the nation's children will have the same
opportunities that you, the children of Cuba's region now have.

When the Pioneer representing you spoke here today, she said very beautiful
things.  She said that you, the Pioneers, are also thinking about future
generations, as we did some years ago about you. [applause] That is why,
she said, you are going to take good care of the camp so that not only you
but the future Pioneers of this region will also be able to enjoy this
camp.  But not only will you have the opportunity to work for the new
generations, those following you, by taking care of this camp, but also by
studying hard and by being an example.  You must be an example for new
generations, but you will also have to work for the new generations.  The
day will come when today's children will take the place of this adult
generation, and the more you study, the more you are technically prepared,
the more knowledge you have, the more will you be able to do for future

You have to bear in mind that when the revolution won, more than 30 percent
were illiterate and more than 90 percent of the population had not attained
a sixth grade education.

On the other hand, today there is practically no child who does not
complete primary education and enter the secondary level.  The Pioneer who
spoke recalled that when the Moncada assault took place you had not been
born, that as the time of the "Granma" landing you of course had not been
born.  And nevertheless, at that time, the generations of the Moncada and
the "Granma" were already thinking about you.  That is the truth.  We can
say here today that our generation, this generation of combatants and
revolutionary leaders, feels gratified and proud of what the revolution is
going for future generations, of what the revolution is going for the
children. [applause]

Your teachers and Pioneer guides have explained to you things about Cuba
and about the world.  There are countries where imperialism and colonialism
kept the people--and in many of them still keep them--in the most ruthless
stage of exploitation.  In order to have an idea of what colonialism is,
suffice it to mention Angola.  Ninety percent of the Angolan population is
illiterate.  That is what Portuguese colonialism left behind for the
Angolan people.

You can understand the enormous problems that must be faced by any country
to solve its difficulties, to develop, to advance when it has a 90 percent
illiterate population, the difficulties that a country has when it does not
have physicians, teachers, or any kind of technicians.  These are great
difficulties.  In many countries there is a high degree of illiteracy.  In
some cases the averages are 50, 40 or 30 percent.  It can really be said
that there may be exceptional cases of Latin American countries which have
all children attending classes.  But it is my impression that in reality no
country can say that, because even in the more developed ones there are
certain areas of the population which do not have schools.  What is certain
is that no Latin American country is doing for the new generation, is doing
for the children, what Cuba is doing. [applause] There are tens of millions
of children in Latin America who do not have schools.

There are also very painful situations of millions of children who do not
receive medical attention, do not have hospitals.  There are many Latin
American countries where every 1,000 children born, more than 100 die every
year.  Cuba, our country has reduced the first year child mortality to 27
percent, the lowest in Latin America--rather 27 for every 1,000. [applause]
We are aware of what this effort represents.  For any Latin American
country make an effort of this type, a revolution such as ours is
necessary, [applause] radical and profound which would change all phases of
society.  The Cuban revolution will have its 18th anniversary very soon,
and that is the enormous advantage we have over the rest of the Latin
American countries.  Because, we know that this work of social development
of a country, of sanitary development of a country, of educational
development of a country cannot be done in 1 or 3 or 5 years.  This work
requires tens of years.

It is due to this reason that our country is beginning to be, and is very
short span undoubtedly will be, the country with the highest cultural level
on the whole continent, the country with the highest educational level on
the whole continent. [applause] But this will not only be true in just the
cultural and educational sectors, it will also be true in the technical
field.  The day will come when our country will have a large percentage of
qualified and technical workers, higher than that of any other country on
the continent, because not only is primary education being improved, but
also secondary and technical education.

Certain statistics can be cited that demonstrates this reality.  When the
revolution won, the university had 15,000 student.  Rather, the
universities were closed, but in the prerevolutionary period the university
never had more than 15,000 students.  Today there are more than 80,000
university students and by 1980 we will have around 145,000 university
students. [applause] At the beginning of the revolution there were not
enough physicians and those were mainly practicing in the capital.  There
were 6,000 physicians and the imperialists took 3,000 physicians.  Today
the country has more than 10,000 physicians and they are distributed
throughout the nation.  But not only will we have by 1980 145,000
university students, we will also have more than 1 million intermediate
level students. [applause] And as I said before, in September 1976 we will
have more than 700,000 students at that level. [applause] Anybody can
understand how this will translate into the educational and technical
levels of our fatherland in the future.

Another statistic: In the Union of Cuban Pioneers there are more than 7,000
groups of amateur entertainers, and hundreds of thousands of Pioneers
participate in some type of cultural activity.  This is due to the
revolution's effort in this field, to the effort of those who fought for
the definitive liberation of our fatherland.

Today you have prepared a beautiful program.  It is a shame that all the
visitors were not able to see all the activities, because they are very
numerous, but those of us who arrived at 0900 hours had the opportunity to
watch the Pioneers reenacting the "Granma" landing. [applause] Eighty-two
Pioneers with their backpacks, rifles and olive-drab uniforms landed on
that beach to reenact that historic event.  This is part of the education
that children receive in Cuba, [the work] of the historical associations
and of this type of activity by the Union of Cuban Pioneers.  But those
children did not look as if they were reenacting an event, they were so
solemn and acted their roles with such emotion that it seemed as if it were
a real landing. [applause] The children appeared to be real members of an
expedition.  For those comrades who were here, it was very emotional.

We were able to see the gymnastics, the rodeo and lastly the cultural event
you organized.  This cultural event was organized with the cooperation of
Pioneers from various provinces.  The groups from Santiago, Holguin, Minas
in Camaguey, Camaguey, Las Villas and other delegations from Havana were
here.  But is is very interesting to observe that things are not the way
they used to be, that is, when such activities were held only in the
capital.  It is interesting to observe the impressive development of the
activities of amateur performers in the interior of the country and to see
how all these activities are organized by you, the children of Las Villas.

This province has played an important role in Cuba's history.  As you all
know, great struggles were waged in this province during the last century.
It was the site where the great heroes of our independence made heroic
efforts, heroes such as Maximo Gomez and Maceo.  You also know that in the
last phase of the struggle for liberation Las Villas Province played a most
important role.  It was the site where the glorious invasions of Camilo and
Che took place. [applause]

Following the triumph of the revolution it was also this province that we
had to fight very hard against the counterrevolution.  The Yankee
imperialists attempted to make those Escambray Mountains a
counterrevolutionary bulwark.  On these coasts they dropped thousands of
weapons from the air.  The soldiers of the rebel army and the Escambray
militiamen had to fight very hard here to crush the bandits.  But the
province, its workers, its peasants wages the battle and annihilated very
worm. [applause]

It was a struggle that lasted years.  As you know, they murdered Conrado
Benitez, a teacher who was working with the peasants of these mountains.
On these mountains they murdered Manual Ascunce Domenech when we was
participating in the literacy drive.  The counterrevolutionaries burned
schools, murdered workers and peasants and at times even murdered whole

But nothing is left of that now.  Today the Escambray is one of Cuba's more
revolutionary regions. [applause] And it is precisely in the Escambray
where such a beautiful project can be inaugurated.  Today it is necessary
that all children experience a profound feeling of gratitude toward the
construction workers who, with sweat and sacrifice, have completed this
project.  A delegation of the workers is here with us.

On behalf of our party and our people we wish to thank you, [applause]
especially on behalf of all the children. [applause]

Dear comrades, I know you are on vacation and that is why I do not want to
talk too much about studies.  I do not want to talk about books, but it is
of great satisfaction to remember that there were more promotions in Las
Villas Province this year than at any time in its history. [applause] For
example, at the basic primary level, the rate of promotion was 95.7
percent. [applause] In the basic secondary level promotion was 98.6
percent. [applause] In the preuniversity level it was 99.4 percent.
[applause] In technical and industrial-professional education it was 96.7
percent; in livestock-agricultural studies 98.9 percent; in economy and
administration 99.1 percent; in polytechnic 99.1 percent; in
teacher-training 99.9 percent. [applause]

These are very high averages.  Some years ago we did not even dream of
having promotions such as these.  Promotion throughout the country has been
very good.  The primary level has averaged between 96 and 97 percent.
Graduating from sixth grade are about 15,000 students more than were
anticipated. [applause] The total will amount to nearly 120,000 students
graduating from sixth grade. [applause] Now you can imagine the problem we
are confronting.  Where will be place those 15,000 students more than
anticipated who have graduated?  What can we do?  Do you have any ideas?

Well, that is one of the problems that we have to solve.  So while you are
on vacation we will have to solve the problem of educating, finding schools
or preparing schools for those 15,000 graduates above what had been
projected.  The number that had been projected was more than enough.  But,
we are not sad because of that.  It is the result of the improvements the
improvement of the efficiency of our educational system.  This constitutes
one more success of the revolution.  Thus, we can say that the Pioneers are
studying harder, that the youths are studying harder.  That is why the only
thing I want to add about the studies is that you renew once more your
promise of being better students. [applause] There is one more problem to
solve and we would like to have your help in this.  It is deciding the name
we are going to give to this camp.

As you know, this place was known as La Tatagua and many of you did not
like the name.  You examined all sorts of proposals.  You looked for
historic names, nature-connected names, names of martyrs, names of heroes
of the revolution.  AT the Politburo we examined different proposals
together with the youths, the Union of Pioneers, and at last a name emerged
that carried a majority.  It is a name that I thought would be kept a
secret until discussed with you.  But I have learned this morning that the
newspaper published it.  Do you know the name?  Do you know it? [Pioneers
answer negatively] Well, do you want me to tell you the name which won a
majority?  You probably did not read this morning's newspaper. [children
answer "no] The name being submitted for the camp is Ismaelillo, Ismaelillo
Camp. [applause]

As you all know, this is the title of a book of poems by Marti dedicated to
his son. [applause] It reflects all the love felt by that extraordinary
revolutionary toward his son, from whom he had to separate due to
revolutionary reasons, but is also reflects the love felt by Marti toward
all children. [applause]

We thought that such a beautiful and poetic name would be the best for this
camp. [applause] But the final decision much be made now.  We want to know
your opinion and if you agree to call this camp Ismaelillo in the future.
[children answer affirmatively] Havana Province's camp has the name of Jose
Marti and this one will be called Ismaelillo.  Now Ismaelillo has to
emulate against the Jose Marti Camp. [applause]

It is 1207 hours, comrades.  In a few minutes you will have to go get a
drink of water and have lunch.  We know that you have been standing on your
feet since early in the morning.  We know you have been walking those roads
since 0700 hours, engaged in activities.  You did not, but the members of
the cultural group did.  You got up at 0300 hours.  It looks as if you like
to get up early.  Besides you were far from here.  I do not want to say
what time the others got up. [children make unintelligible remarks] You
started your activities at 0700 hours with a sun that, as a small peasant
said, can crack stones.

You have been up more than 5 hours; that is why we do not want to prolong
this event any longer.  Closing, I would like to read a very beautiful
phrase by Marti that is part of the dedication of the book of poems to
Ismaelillo, his son.  He said: Son, I have faith in human improvement, in
future life, in the usefulness of virtue and in you.  I dream wide awake,
Marti said.  I dream with by eyes opened, and day and night I always dream.
And over the foam of the broad disturbed sea and between the curled sands
of the desert and the mighty lion, a monarch of the chest happily mounted
over the submissive neck, a child who calls me I always see floating.
Pioneers for communism!  Fatherland or death, we will win! [prolonged