Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Speech by Fidel Castro

Havana Domestic Radio/Television Services in Spanish 0139 GMT 19 Jan 77 FL

[Speech by Fidel Castro, president of the Cuban Council of State, at
inaugural session of the 79th CEMA Executive Committee meeting at the
Habana Libre Hotel, Havana, on 18 January--recorded]

[Text] Esteemed Comrade President of the Executive Committee, esteemed
comrade permanent representatives, esteemed delegations:  I must stress
first the extraordinary honor it is to our revolutionary people that, in
fulfillment of the CEMA Executive Committee revolution, the 79th meeting is
being held in Cuba.  We fully understand the significance of this honor.
We appreciate the effort that you must make in transferring the
deliberations of the committee some 8,000 km from its permanent offices and
subjecting yourselves to the contingencies created by the necessary
improvisations and our unavoidable inexperience.  We see in this action a
demonstration of friendship toward and interest in our country, a desire to
learn about our realities at close range, our modest gains and our problems
and, above all, a true expression of the vitality, strength and the
victorious advance of socialism.

The Cuban people welcome you with hospitality and love.  We have done and
will do everything possible within our reach to create the most propitious
working conditions for the Executive Committee.  Our workers also hope to
be able to show you some of the accomplishments of the revolution in the
economic development of the country, in eradicating the traces left by
several centuries of colonialism and imperialist domination and in the
material and social building of socialism.  We believe that precisely the
enormous geographic distance separating us, as well as the differences due
to the historic and cultural medium in which Cuba and the rest of the
member nations are located, will, rather than being an obstacle, help us to
better understand the essence of CEMA and to evaluate the historic step
represented by the incorporation of our country in its activities in 1973.

We live in a world where integration has become the only possible
alternative for any people seeking material and scientific development and
the right to occupy an honorable position in the future.  The degree in
which the modern scientific and technical revolution brings problems of
cooperation and specialization of the economies, the extraordinary current
demands on technology and the enormous investments required to make
rational utilization of productive resources are in direct and absolute
contradiction with the scale of the political maps which were designed by
the class societies for many centuries, especially capitalism.  But this
contradiction is still more acute when we refer to the levels of economic
and cultural development, to the abysmal differences existing between a
handful or bourgeois industrialized nations and tens and tens of countries
which have barely reached the level of survival.

Never before has the antihistoric and obsolete nature of the capitalist
system been more strongly manifested.  A society that has created colossal
productive forces today only offers the sad spectacle of poor use of its
industrial capacities, unrestrained crises, unlimited inflation,
unemployment, hunger, arms race, the criminal waste of irreplaceable
resources, energy and raw material problems, and the inability to preserve
and protect the environment of the human species.

If Karl Marx were alive, if he could open his eyes for just an instant to
see these realities, he himself would admire the genius of his scientific

Facing this panorama, one can observe the integrationist tendencies of some
developed capitalist countries as is the case with the European Economic
Community, while in other areas and groups of countries, as is the case in
Latin America, diverse formulas of association of different hues are
emerging.  These range from one having a categorically reactionary sense to
those which encourage a progressive objective and defense against the
voracity of the transnational monopolies.  Life, however, confirms that any
attempt at integration under the conditions of capitalism could not go
beyond certain limited objectives, and that all integrationist movement
sponsored by imperialism will always be politically and economically
precarious, for not only will it be incapable of preventing the
inequalities and internal discrimination between the more powerful and
weaker partners, but also, as it has pointedly occurred in the case of the
European community and as can also be appreciated in the U.S. imperialist
policy, its alliance will be conceived to perpetuate the unequal trade with
underdeveloped countries and to force them, through its system of
protective tariffs, to subsidize with their agricultural products and raw
materials the consumer economies, the waste and the high standard of living
of a small group of industrial nations.

In essence, it is a matter of there being no integration without social
justice, without the elimination of the regime of exploitation of man by
man and without the replacement of national selfishnesses with the practice
of internationalism.  This is one more reason why the future of
mankind--inconceivable without the closest economic and political union and
without the consistent liquidation of the abyss of inequality still
prevailing--undoubtedly belongs to socialism.  Capitalism has left behind
and will continue to leave behind to the new social regime an extremely
complex and difficult task of reconstruction.  The best proof of this is
the task that has been faced by CEMA since its founding, a little better
than a fourth of a century ago.

CEMA is a confirmation of the necessary international nature of socialism,
postulated by Marx and Engels and demonstrated in the revolutionary
practice by Lenin, who perceived with singular genius how the historic
advance of socialism will necessarily require the increasingly greater
relationship and successive integration of the diverse socialist states
into a community which by growing would become more like the so many times
dreamed-of image of a mankind where the old borders are eliminated, the
national contradictions and differences between countries disappear and the
difference between languages and cultures should stop, as is now happening,
being an element of separation and become an instrument of union and of
mutual enrichment.

Of course, we are far from reaching that goal toward which the communist
societies will lead, but CEMA is one step in that direction.

The enemies of socialism and even some of its followers use deep-rooted
nationalist prejudices to sow among peoples the fear that superior
development and greater material strength of some countries with respect to
others will inevitably lead to implanting in the socialist community
relations based on predominance and even on the exploitation which
characterizes the old imperialist systems and the modern structures of
world capitalism.  But CEMA makes possible a bonafide confirmation of how
the ideological nature of socialism makes the existence of such phenomena
impossible and how the concept of satellites, so much employed by our
adversaries, really has a place only in the relations of imperialism and
the shameless regimes that serve it.

The entry of Cuba into CEMA is a proof of the growing universality of
socialism.  When the North American imperialists were more confident and
certain that Latin America was their comfortable backyard and their
privileged pasture for their private plundering, there emerged in 1959 the
victorious Cuban revolution which for the first time totally liberated a
country in this hemisphere from imperialist oppression.  Our history
quickly showed that under contemporary conditions a recently liberated
country could resist and defeat the imperialism decision for military,
political and economic reconquest only if it decided to make profound
transformations and resolutely advance toward socialism.

If our country has had any privilege, it is that conferred upon it by
history in being the first to defeat capitalism and imperialism in this
part of the world and the first in which construction of socialism began.
It was not a miracle, but the invincible force of Marxist-Leninist ideology
merged with our revolutionary traditions and the massive heroism of the
people, along with the formidable support of international solidarity,
which made it possible for the immortal flags of the great October
Revolution to fly triumphantly over the first free territory in America.

The imperialists seek to attribute expansionist objectives to socialism as
if revolutionary ideas were not a universal patrimony and as if every
nation could not on its own, according to historic laws, advance toward a
superior society.  No one except the Cuban people, truly free for the first
time, decided on the path of socialism in our homeland.  Nothing except the
internationalist nature of our social system has converted Cuba into the
natural link between the socialist community in Europe and the peoples of
this continent.  Neither can anyone be blamed if today CEMA has a
Spanish-speaking member state and the force of its ideas and work radiate
along with the example of its relations with the socialist countries in an
arena which has known only the hateful relations of haughtiness,
subjugation and humiliation historically imposed by North America

A very short time ago, CEMA commemorated its first 25 years of operations.
The economic results of this brief period of time serve to corroborate the
undeniable victory of socialism over capitalism.  It will always be
necessary to remember that the emergency of Soviet power--it will soon be 6
decades--was considered by all theoreticians of capitalism as the emergency
of a short-lived utopia destined to disappear in a short period of time and
without leaving any traces.  The deed of the Soviet people led by Lenin and
his party gave that apparent contradiction the viable strength for a
splendid realization that not only would survive the sacrifice imposed by
the initial aggression and blockade and the terrible war for the fatherland
against Nazism in which the Soviet people paid the principle cost of a
struggle with which they liberated the entire human race, but also presents
to us today the spectacle of extraordinary economic, cultural, scientific
and technological progress which has made the Soviet Union an impressive
reality and a firm hope.

With CEMA, the victories of socialism ceased to be the isolated deeds of a
country of giants and became the solitary effort of a community of nations
associated by their ideological base and in the socialist community
belonging to CEMA during its quarter of a century, it would be enough to
say that upon its creation the socialist member countries were producing
only 18 percent of the world's industrial production and that already by
1974 their share of production had reached 23 percent.  Industrial
production of some member countries grew sixfold from 1950 to 1973 and in
others it increased up to sixteenfold.  Countries which had had less
comparative industrial growth before their socialist revolutions attained
surprising rates.  Bulgaria grew 53 times over, Romania 43 and Poland 38.

In 1950, steel production in the European Economic Community countries was
greater than that of the CEMA-member countries; 48.4 million tones in the
[European] Community and 35.8 million in CEMA countries.  However, by 1973
iron and steel production of CEMA countries had left the European Economic
Community behind with 178 million tons annually as against 350 million,
respectively, [as heard] while USSR steel production exceeded that of the
United States.

Electric energy production grew more than 10 times during the same period.
Similar leaps were attained in oil production and even greater ones in
specific technical resources such as tractors.  It can therefore be
explained that the national gross product of member countries, a figure
which represents the state of material well-being of their respective
peoples, grew as a whole by 5.8 times over the same period.  But this is
not the only thing indicating to us that the superiority of socialism has
ceased being theoretical pronouncement and has become a tangible reality.

The economic victories of socialism contrast today more than ever with the
growing difficulties being experienced by the capitalist countries, whether
isolated powers like the United States and Japan or economic groups like
the European Community.  Those who for a brief period of time believed they
had found the techniques to escape the crises of the system and paid no
attention to Marx's prediction, regarding it as something obsolete, today
find themselves facing the specter of a new great depression like that of
1929.  The capitalists are struggling between the inflation that emerges in
all areas of their decrepit system and the unemployment that hurts, with
its economic limitations and social humiliation, hundreds of millions of
workers.  However, the most possibilities offered by the integration of
socialist countries have so far been slightly taken advantage of and you
should continuously study new methods and programs in order to step up the
already tangible results of coordinated planning, specialization and the
efficient integration of some industrial areas.

In Cuba we attribute extraordinary importance to these analyses.  We
observe with great interest the preparation of long-term programs that is
underway for the solution of fundamental problems in the sphere of material
production, especially in the branches of energy, fuels and industrial raw
materials, in the construction of plants and equipment of modern technology
for livestock-agricultural production, the food industry, transportation
and other branches, and the adoption of complex plans aimed at the
scientific and technical development, plans which are undergoing profound
and careful studies aimed at their most rapid implementation.

These programs will make possible the improvement of the division of
socialist labor.  In this aspect, each new day brings us the certainty that
only socialism will permit an international division of labor which is just
and efficient.  We are not even referring to the contrast existing between
the division of labor as exists between us today and the one that the
capitalist superpowers are attempting to perpetuate with respect to
underdeveloped countries.  This problem deserves to be examined at least
briefly at a proper time.

I know we are all aware that a lot has to be done to make the division of
labor in our countries function in accordance with the principles and
standards that we have set in our programs.  Nevertheless, we are sure that
we are advancing on the right path toward the progressive equalization of
the levels of economic development and industrial progress between member
nations.  The struggle for the new international economic order has become
a common goal for the countries wanting to eliminate backwardness and
abolish the exploitation of which they were and continue to be victims.

We know that such economic order will not be obtainable as long as the
imperialist system prevails in substantial portions of the world.  But many
of the reforms that will lead to accelerating its disappearance are
attainable today and are part of that common program of the developing
countries.  The Paris conference and Ford's and Kissinger's threats
demonstrate that the imperialists do not resign themselves to losing any of
their privileges.  The slightest examination would demonstrate that the
concession of some reforms is perhaps the only path left to them to impede
the total collapse--as a result of the intensification of the struggle of
peoples desperate in their agony--of the system which they believe they can
best defend with stubbornness and violence.

In its relations with underdeveloped countries, CEMA demonstrates the
radical difference that separates socialism from the imperialist groups.
It is known that as of 1975 member countries had provided economic and
technical assistance to almost 70 countries of the so-called Third World.
Through CEMA, these countries have built more than 2,000 industrial
enterprises and other types concerned with the fundamental branches of
their economy.  Currently more than 1,000 projects are under construction.
CEMA-member countries have granted long-term credits of more than 11
billion rubles to developing countries.

However, there is not a single onerous demand behind these operations, or a
search for raw materials, or extraction of dividends.  Not even a single
CEMA-member country has an enterprise or exploits a single worker anywhere
in the world.  This is the great difference that distinguishes CEMA
collaboration from the exploitation and "assistance"--in quotes-- of

The historic problems caused by wars of aggression and the economic
backwardness from which the Soviet Union and other socialist countries in
Europe and Asia today represented at this hall have emerged to explain why
a period of time still remains before the socialist countries can furnish
the underdeveloped world the enormous resources it requires to erase the
catastrophic consequences of the 100 years of plundering by the
colonialists and imperialists.  What is new, however, is that the new type
of relations that has emerged form the socialist character of
collaboration, in which efforts are aimed precisely at the transformation
of old conditions, the establishment of economic foundations for
development, guarantees the complete economic independence of the country
with which collaboration is being effected.

This morning I wish to reiterate that Cuba feels proud of having been one
of the most extraordinary and eloquent examples of what relations can be
between a socialist country and an emerging state which gained its
independence and was headed toward socialism through change.  Relations
between the Soviet Union and Cuba in the order of political and military
support, in trade, technical assistance and promotion of [Cuban]
development, remain as an unexcelled page in the history of relations
between big and small countries.  We could not possibly overlook this
opportunity to reiterate it once more.

Now then, along with the bilateral relations with the USSR and other
socialist countries, we are beginning to experience the results of
multilateral relations reaching us through CEMA.  During these days, you
will discuss the status of the fulfillment of the agreement by which the
member countries will provide assistance to Cuba in the construction of a
new nickel plant which should produce 30,000 metric tons annually.  Other
topics concerning possible cooperation with the economic, development of
Cuba also are on the working agenda.

Undoubtedly, the example of these possibilities has resulted in an
increasing number of Latin American countries interested in approaching
CEMA and reaching cooperation agreements which represent an important step
in the defense of their countries in the face of contemporary conditions of
the general crisis in capitalism and the disadvantageous trade which
imperialism imposes on them.

For us, my dear Comrade Chairman, dear comrade permanent representatives,
this is an encouraging confirmation of our own convictions.

When we joined CEMA 4 years ago we did it in our triple condition as a
socialist country, underdeveloped country and a country subscribed to the
history of the traditions of revolutionary hopes in Latin America.  We
asserted at that time that we proposed to be a link between the
possibilities opened by European socialism in its integration process as a
coherent and firm system and the requirements of a Latin America metropolis
and the insufficiencies of the world capitalist market.

We are part of the socialist community which we joined.  And we are also
part of the community of Latin American people with which someday we will
fully integrate and with whose independent and progressive governments we
are willing to do the maximum within our reach in the fields of
collaboration and economic, cultural and scientific-technical exchange.

These ideas are becoming a firm reality. We already have revolution that is
definitely consolidated, equipped with its institutions of democratic
government and with a people that are united, aware and deeply
internationalist. We have no doubt regarding the victorious future that
awaits the socialist community forged around the USSR and integrated in
CEMA. We also do not have the slightest doubt that imperialist domination
completely lacks any future on this continent and that sooner or later the
Latin American peoples will find the path of full liberation and socialism.
We look to the future with optimism. That is why today, in welcoming you to
our socialist fatherland, on this small island which is like an irreducible
rock and like a revolutionary beacon for the forces of the American
Continent, your presence in Cuba seems to us to be the anticipated image of
Latin America and the world for which we are struggling, that Latin America
where there will not be capitalism or imperialism or its reactionary ideas,
that free, fraternal, big and united Latin America which someday will leap
to hold the  honorable place that belongs to it in the future of mankind
and which will give definitive and triumphal meaning to the vast effort of
our heroes--from the liberation dreams of Hidalgo, Boliver and Marti to the
fruitful efforts of Che Guevara and Salvador Allende.

Fatherland or death, we will win.  [applause]