Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Text of Castro Speech

FL210200Y Havana Domestic Radio and Television Services in Spanish 0145 GMT
21 Dec 77 FL

[Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at rally held in Jaguey Grande,
Matanzas Province, on 20 December 1977 to mark the harvesting of 1 million
quintals of citrus fruits by the Victoria de Giron enterprise--recorded]

[Text] Dear comrades of the Matanzas Province party and of Giron
Municipality; dear comrades of the provincial and municipal people's
government organs; dear comrade technicians and workers of the Victoria de
Giron plan; professors and students; This event, which is big in scope,
will be brief in duration since it corresponds to this time of labor,
harvests and studies.  It is difficult to believe that just a few years ago
the first school was inaugurated in this area.  If my memory serves me
well, it took place during a cultural congress.  It was also a year when a
youth festival was held.  The Cuban delegation that was going to attend the
World Youth Festival held a meeting at the first school.  [addressing
someone in the crowd, Fidel asks]  That was the second?  Oh, I made a
mistake.  That is true.  The first one was the cultural congress.  What
year was that, Fernandez?  [Apparently Castro is speaking to the education
minister]  It was April 1971.  The second one was in the year of the 10th
[World Youth and Students] Festival.  Two times, two schools were
inaugurated.  But the first one was in 1971.  This is 1977.  Is that

Now, we are gathered here with 23,000 students representing the 22
secondary level and preuniversity schools in the countryside.  This really
is a gigantic step forward.  Comrade Duque was correct in saying that the
most beautiful harvests are the new generations being formed.  It was not
long ago--it will be 19 years soon--that the revolution triumphed.  Duque,
the brilliant director of this plan, is not an old man.  He has some gray
hair, but he is young and above all, is full of energy.  Nevertheless, he
was one of the most outstanding revolutionary combatants during the war.
[applause]  Today, he has become an outstanding combatant of the economic
development of the socialist fatherland and of production.  That is the
reason we fought.  We fought to build a new fatherland, a new country; to
create culture, education, wealth, the well-being and happiness of the

Projects such as this are examples of the revolution's work throughout the
country.  The nation's places and regions that have been extraordinarily
transformed in recent years are not few.  We can assure you, moreover, that
this region of Jaguey is one of those which have undergone great
transformations--Jaguey and Giron.

I recalled what the situation was in this area during the first years [of
revolution]--above all, in the Cienaga and the southern part of the
Cienaga.  In the very first years, rural roads and highways were built and
all these areas were connected.  The living conditions of the population
were completely changed in this region of the Cienaga, which doubtlessly
was the poorest in Cuba.  One thinks that in reality it is a case of a
paradox because the mercenaries chose this place for the landing.  Right
through there, on those beaches where the revolution had built tourist
centers, where the revolution had built an airport, to use the means of
communications built by the revolution--or, if I may say, to stop us from
using them.  They chose that landing site precisely because it only had
three roads, which were built by the revolution.  The rest was swampy area.
They thought that the counterattack would be difficult through that area,
that by capturing the roads and defending them with their artillery and
tanks, it would have been impossible to recapture that piece of national
territory and they would have been able to establish a counterrevolutionary
government, request OAS and U.S. recognition and in that way pseudolegalize
the imperialist intervention.

On a day like today, it would be good to ask oneself:  What would this
region have been like?  What would have happened to this area, if the
mercenaries and imperialists had defeated the revolution?  We all know that
there would not have been a single school built, or a single new citrus
tree planted, or this enormous development, or this day of labor, of
success, of rejoicing that we are enjoying today.  During those first
years, to defend the revolution was the vital task.  But even then, there
was concern over the country's development.  However, the new revolutionary
state and its leaders had very little information about the country.
Actually, we needed first of all to study the country.  We did not even
have a clear idea of how to conduct meetings such as this one.  In the
Jaguey area, which was one of the main citrus producers of Cuba, there were
only 50 planted caballerias scattered all over.  They were being cared for
by small farmers who had planted the best lands of the area.  The rest was
mainly rocky, jagged rocks, where any type of agriculture was very
difficult.  It was impossible to plant sugarcane or other types of
cultivation.  The only areas possible for planting were in some pockets of
land.  We ourselves did not even know how to solve that problem.

The revolution's first plantations were built in rocky land where it was
difficult to plant and, above all, to care for them.  It was clear to all,
however, that this area was ideal for citrus.  The problem was how to use
these lands, how to plant them.  In one instance, we considered whether it
would be convenient to bring brackish water from the swamps to irrigate all
of this [area].  Finally, the solution was found--the 300-horsepower
bulldozers.  They combed the land and dynamite was used to dig the holes
for the trees.  What kind of land is this where 300-horsepower bulldozers
have to be used to level the land and, in addition, dynamite has to be used
to plant the trees?

Thus, it can be said that an heroic struggle was waged here to transform
nature, to make it useful and to expand the agricultural area of the
country.  It is true that to the north there are vast expanses of land
suitable for the cultivation of citrus, but those lands were planted with
sugarcane and they belonged to the sugar mills.  It was not logical nor in
any way economic to eliminate the sugarcane in order to plant citrus in
those areas.

If we were going to develop an important citrus plan here as well as in
other places of the country, it would be necessary to use lands such as
these which were not suitable for other types of cultivation. Once the
method was found as to how to use these lands, the means and the equipment
were acquired and the plan began to develop rapidly.

But it was not only a matter of how to use those lands; the question of
manpower had to be resolved.  All this area was desolate.  It was desolate
because it was unproductive from the point of view of agriculture.  Not
many peasants lived here.  Historically, the peasants had always chosen
places near rivers, fertile lands, lands easy to work with their
implements, which were mainly teams of oxen.  Before the revolution, it
would have been impossible for the peasantry to develop a plan of this type
and, besides, they did not have the resources.  And if they would have
developed it, they would not have had the markets for that citrus.

From the very beginning we knew we had the markets, the gigantic socialist
markets.  They were there ready to receive as much citrus as we could
produce, but there was another problem here which was very important:  the
problem of manpower.  Where could we get that labor force?  We were able to
find the solution in the plan combining study with work, an idea forged by
Marxism-Leninism and, in addition, by Marti.  In the last century, he
[Marti] had talked about combining study with work.  Before that, Marx had
talked about this topic as the only way to form truly whole men.  This was
one of the first places where we carried into practice such a revolutionary
idea as that of combining study with work.  This essentially solved the
labor force problem for this plan.  We lacked the technicians but in recent
years numerous brilliant and enthusiastic technicians in soil studies and
agriculture have been trained.  We looked qualified workers but in recent
years they also have been trained in massive numbers.

After solving these essential requirements, the plan began to advance:
From the initial 50 caballerias, we now have nearly 1,890 caballerias in
Jaguey planted with citrus; from the some 100,000 quintals produced in the
past during the capitalist era, today we have reached the amount of 1
million quintals.  But, 1 million is nothing.  I mean it is nothing
compared to the millions that will come in the future, because the number
of producing caballerias is still small.  The great majority of the planted
caballerias have yet to start producing, because this plan is very young.
The great majority of the trees are 2, 3, maybe 4 years old.  But, you
imagine year after year [of development] and anyone can get an idea of what
a beautiful and gigantic garden this area will become, with all its
schools--100 or 120, with all its rural communities for the agricultural
workers and for laborers from the industrial plants that will have to be
built according to this plan.

Of course, we can proudly confirm that nowhere in the world is there a
plantation of this magnitude.  Larger countries such as the United States
probably have more citrus areas in total than Cuba, but no plan or
productive unit is as big as this one.  I can assure you that every visitor
who comes here is amazed.  They cannot imagine something like this going on
in Cuba!  Even many North American visitors who have visited this
plantation could not imagine a project of this magnitude and technical
level existing in an underdeveloped country.  This, of course, has created
some fears among some North American farmers, above all in Florida, because
they believe that we are going to bankrupt them with these citrus

We have explained to them with all logic that they have nothing to fear,
that we have our market for the citrus fruits--which is composed
essentially of the Soviet Union and the Socialist countries [applause],
with which we have magnificent economic relations and with which trade is
effected on solid foundations and based on plans.

The international capitalist market is in chaos:  One never knows what
price a product is going to bring, and one never knows how much of a
product can be sold.

On the other hand, beginning now we are already holding talks and we know
how many products we can send to the Socialist countries in 1978, 1979 and
1980, and how much we are going to be sending them year by year from 1980
to 1985 and how much we are going to be sending them from 1980...[Castro
corrects himself] from 1985 to 1990 and it is even possible to discuss how
much we are going to send them in 1991, 1992, 1993, and so forth.
Actually, this means working on very solid bases, on very certain bases.
We develop our trade with them based on stable prices as we do, for
example, with sugar.  It is fortunate for us that we send most of our sugar
to the Socialist camp under a very encouraging price that is very
beneficial for our country.  It is a very favorable trade, a type of trade
which in our judgment should exist between underdeveloped countries and
industrialized countries.  The capitalist countries would never accept
trading under such conditions.  That is why we do not intimidate anyone.
We do not have to intimidate anyone with these citrus projects.

Nevertheless, and above all, the visitors admire a number of things
including the land where we work, the struggle against nature, the use of
bulldozers, dynamite, the schools, the young labor force composed of
students.  There are, of course, other arguments.  They said that our use
of the students results in a low production cost for the labor force.  Of
course.  Apparently they do not count what the country has to spend for
schools, what the country has to spend for teachers, what the country has
to spend for food, medical attention, and all the material needs of the
students, for whom the revolution has never spared any effort.  Moreover,
we have told some who were concerned about these things that although the
basic work in the citrus projects is done by students, it does not mean
that we are going to give away the citrus fruits, and that we would be
dumping.  No, we are not interested in any of this because as I said, and I
repeat, we have our assured markets from now until the year 2000 and after
2000 also, for whatever time we want, because these are the bases of a
Socialist economy, development and economic relations.

Our market has no limit.  The limit is and will be imposed by our
production.  All citrus fruits which Cuba is capable of producing always
have and will have a market in the Socialist countries.  This project is
being developed under such solid bases in every sense.

The labor force will not be lacking.  We will have increasingly more
engineers, more middle-level technicians, more qualified workers and they
will have increasingly more experience.  We will have increasingly more
students.  That is known.  Everyone knows this.  I would say that [we have]
even too many because, according to statistics of the Education Ministry,
264,000 sixth-grade students will graduate next year.  It is the highest
figure during the revolution.  As you well understand, this is related to
the population explosion during the early years which, fortunately, today
is not so high.  At the rate we were going we would not have had enough
space in this country.  However, the birth rate is decreasing as a result
of more education, a greater cultural level and more incorporation of women
into productive, social and political activities.  We have grown too
quickly in these 19 years, too quickly.  However, the point will have to
come when a certain balance in the population will exist.  These boys who
are now graduating from the sixth grade belong to the first years.  I think
some of you are laughing and you are doing that for some reason.
[laughter] They are part of the [population] explosion.

Do you know the meaning of that explosion?  Well, of the polyclinics,
hospitals, schools, and teachers, nothing was enough.  Do you know the
meaning of that explosion?  Well, all the secondary schools we built are
not enough.  We would have wished that everyone had the same system of
study, but it was impossible.  It was necessary to build urban secondary
schools in the cities and towns everywhere.  Otherwise where would those
200,000, 230,000, 240,000, 264,000 have gone?  especially next year?  What
a problem it was at the time to draft the 1978 economic plan and plan all
services, and where all these students were to go.

Of course, we still do not have it all solved.  There are about 20,000
around here [presumably without a place to go] because with so many urban
basic secondary schools, so many polytechnical institutes, so many schools
of every type and so many urban schools, they are still not enough, to the
extent that schools of this type have been devoted primarily to the boys in
rural areas who otherwise would not have been able to study under any
condition--[boys of] peasants who live isolated with their children in the
mountains and fields, and we had to give preference to these students.

As you know, right here in Jaguey there are nine schools for students from
the eastern provinces.  Everyone here from the eastern provinces raise your
hand.  Now you can appreciate it.  You have to come from the eastern
provinces because there the population is really growing.  When the
population grew in Havana, it grew in Oriente at least three times over.
It is the province that has more boys [laughter], and in very isolated
areas, a high percentage of the population lives in rural areas.  That is
why by September... [interrupted by indistinct chanting] you have a good
voice.  Moreover, I was telling you that moreover...[interrupted by
indistinct chanting] you are chauvinists, I mean regionalists.  [laughter]
These from Oriente are happy and they have reason to be happy.  We know
that you are good students but I am not going to praise you more if you
continue making so much noise.  [laughter]  Both in the Isle of Pines and
here I know everyone has a very good opinion of the students from the
eastern provinces.  They say that they work hard and apply themselves in
their studies and, in addition, are good laborers.  I was explaining our
problems, our problems with those students who will be fewer to graduate in
1979, in 1980 much fewer, until reaching an acceptable level.  By then, the
schools will begin to graduate...[leaves thought unfinished]  We have good
professors, thanks to the Manuel Ascunce Domenech teacher-training
detachment.  [applause]  Let me see the members of the detachment please
raise their hands.  You can see there are many detachment members at this

Thus, the professors are good.  We will have schools as well as students.
They will be sufficient to continue our development--who knows how far--in
this plan.  I do not dare quote final figures.  There is a figure going
around quoting a six and three zeros, mainly from the citrus.  Well, that
is one figure.  You will have to analyze it little by little, but it will
never be fewer than 5,000.  It will be between 5,000 and 6,000.  If we
reach 6,000, then we will have in this region 120 schools of this type,
just in this area.  I am not speaking about Isle of Pines and other places.
We have advanced in number of schools and we now have 42.  Eight are under
construction.  Of course, there are many problems yet to be solved, some
important technical problems such as the water, the risks of desalination,
communications between Cienaga de Zapata and Jaguey.  Sometime ago we had
the floods and it became necessary to build canals.  Now we have the
problem that the canals appear to drain the water too fast, reducing the
water table.  The same thing happens in the swampy areas.  There are some
drainage canals to facilitate cultivation on lands bordering the swamps
and, according to estimates, about 80 or 100 million cubic meters [of
water] are being lost that are needed here.

Those are the problems that man has to confront.  If he struggles against
the floods and drains, then he has no water.  If he does not drain, the
lands are flooded.  The question is how to resolve all that.

That is why when we say we need technicians, it is not just a statement but
also a goal.  The technicians have to find solutions to these problems.
Fortunately we have a large reservoir, a gigantic reservoir under this
plan.  It is a reservoir of 900 million cubic meters of water.  There is
porous rock through which water filters.  The solution appears to be to
find a way to control these canals, make others, drill wells and look for
places where the water would penetrate into that gigantic reservoir so that
it will not go into the sea; so that the reservoir does not run dry, so
that the lands are not flooded.  Summing it up, there are a number of
problems that have to be solved, investments to be made.  In addition, you
will know that this plan has required large investments--the schools, the
nearly 300 kilometers of roads and highways, the hundreds of kilometers of
electrical wiring, the hundreds of more kilometers of underground tubing,
the irrigation systems, the communities, to mention a few and, in addition,
the labor involved.  The investments are large.

Duque spoke about hundreds of millions.  He must know it very well because
he is one of the persons responsible for the money spent in this region.
Of course, he was referring to the entire plan.  It means that in this type
of production the investments are large at the beginning and the profits
small.  Those trees take 5, 6 years in starting to produce.  Sometimes they
produce before then, but they take many years.  I believe it takes 15 years
to attain their best production levels.  That is why it is necessary to
make large investments over a long period of time.  But the investments
have been made and the plan is beginning to produce.

We now have one million quintals of citrus.  Out of that, almost 30,000 are
for export [as heard].  They are beginning to cut into the 6 and 10
millions of imports.  [as heard]  That is in exports alone.  A few more
millions will be for domestic consumption.  Please note that more than half
of the production will be exported.  To the same degree that the plans
grow, the domestic consumption will, of course, increase, but the exports
also will increase.  If possible, the exports will increase in a larger
proportion than the domestic consumption of citrus.  The next year's
production will amount to some 300,000 tons, of which around 140,000 tons
of fresh fruits will be exported.  Part of it will go to industries and the
rest to domestic consumption.  This is the first million quintals.

I do not want to betray Comrade Duque by revealing here some figures that
have not been made public.  Likewise, I do not want to betray Comrade
(Rich) by revealing here some figures that have been made public [as
heard], but we can say that Matanzas Province is imbued with an enormous
productive spirit, in outright war against poverty and underdevelopment.
For example, it was said here that we were going to produce 1 million
quintals of citrus in the Jaguey plan by 20 December and it was done by 17
December, 3 days ahead of schedule.  They are now talking about producing,
they are trying to overfulfill the goals,--not a goal but an
overfulfillment of a goal.  They are talking about producing 3 million
quintals by 1980 right here in this plan.  I thought that the next event
would be held when the million tons was reached.  That of course takes
time:  One million tons is a little over 20 million quintals.  [laughter in
the crowd]  Well, if you keep this pace, look out.  Because one must take
note that those caballerias of trees are now growing and hundreds of
caballerias will begin producing every year, hundreds of caballerias every
year.  It is not impossible for you to reach the 3 millions.  If you attain
it, we promise that here, or at a place like this one, we will organize
another event to mark the 3 millions.  [applause]  That will be 3 years
from today.

Matanzas Province has not announced it but it has been said that it will
produce 1 million quintals of tubers, among them vegetables, excuse me,
without vegetables.  [apparently someone corrects Castro]  They say that
they have fulfilled it.  We must applaud them. [applause]  Now I am going
to tell you a secret.  The province says that it is going to produce 1
million tons of sugar in this harvest.  [applause]  That is neither a
promise nor a rumor, despite the fact that it is being rumored.  [laughter
in the crowd]  It is a goal they have set themselves.  It is not a promise
because those goals have not been set for them.  It is an objective and it
is safe to say that they might fulfill it.  But that gives an idea of the
effort being made and the quality of the work.

I believe that you technicians, teachers and students gathered her make up
a group capable of reaching the goal proposed for 1980.  This primarily
depends on the care of the citrus, in all its meaning:  Weeding,
fertilizing and irrigation, above all else.  And I think that you have to
treat every tree, every little citrus tree as if it were a baby, as if it
were a child of your own, because they are.  You planted, cultivated and
have taken care of them.  The Jaguey plan needs to become something like a
nursery for citrus.  That is how the trees must be cared for; the trees and
nature respond to good care, and good care basically is a technique.  One
has to care for each of these millions of trees, one by one, carefully.
And I am absolutely convinced that you will achieve it.

See the great satisfaction the fruits of labor give man, our youth, the
successes of work, and the great pride with which you celebrate this first
million quintals of citrus in 1 year.  I believe there is nothing that can
produce as much satisfaction as these successes and nothing can give a
better impression of the future.  You have an idea from the maps; you have
an idea of what this region will really be like--one of the most advanced
and most developed in Cuba--and how it will be in all fields, not only the
field of production, but also the field of education.  It is very important
for the teachers to pay the greatest attention to two indexes:  the
promotion rate and educational performance, that is, educational
performance and production.  These ideas have to become the objectives of
all workers and all the students and their teachers.  We believe that this
million must be hailed not only as a production success but also a great
educational success, a great success of a great and profoundly
revolutionary idea, the idea of study and work.

Citrus is not the only thing produced here, as Duque has said.  Tens of
thousands of future revolutionaries, future technicians, engineers,
doctors, qualified workers are being developed here, with a high level of
culture and a high technology.  The future is precisely with them.  We will
not stagnate, but we will advance in all fields and above all we will
advance in science and technology in order to find new varieties or
introduce new ones in the field of citrus, to produce larger yields per
hectare each year in citrus and in sugarcane, new varieties of sugarcane
that are continually being introduced in order to achieve higher yields per
hectare, better solutions to agricultural problems, technical problems,
water problems.  There is need for technology.  You know that without
technology none of this can be accomplished.  And without the studies,
without these new generations, no one would accomplish anything else,
nothing else.  For us, it is very satisfactory to see how our youth learn
and work.  How many countries in the world can say today that they have
this privilege.  A few countries, revolutionary ones, [can say so].  We
already know how the rest of the world is in education and health.  What
Latin American country has this [Cuban achievement].  When you read the
educational statistics of Latin America, you see the illiteracy rate of 30,
40, 50 percent, academic failure of 60, 70, 80 [percent].  The problem is
most Latin American countries is that children go into the first grade and
do not even reach the third grade.

Very few make it to the sixth grade, and our problem is precisely the sixth
grade. I have said it before that the problem of Latin American countries
is the tiny, tiny number reaching the sixth grade while our problem is the
gigantic numbers who make it to the sixth grade. This will mean a
population with a fabulous culture because it is not that they reach the
sixth grade but that they continue in secondary schools and then the
preuniversity and technological schools and then the preuniversity and
technological schools. And a high percentage go to the universities. There
are truly few countries...we could say that no Latin American country,
unfortunately no African country, and in Asia now [only] the Vietnamese,
for example, are planning to make their great effort to achieve similar
social objectives as we have. It is satisfying to look at this landscape,
this landscape--where do you find a landscape like this elsewhere? Have any
of you heard speak of any outside of Cuba. The same thing from a plane.
Sometimes we come here by plane. The plane descends and we have to travel
by plane to show this to a delegation because it cannot be shown by land.
It has to be done by helicopter or small plane because the layout is so
extensive. But where else can you view a landscape like this, full of
schools, full of students? In what other place can you find a better
education system? How can you compare these schools with the schools at
which some of use studied? Not even remotely--with so much, so much beauty,
so much freedom, the freedom of nature, freedom of the fields. In the past
it was a boarding school, it was a jail, as if we were looked up. And many
more things. But today, since we are speaking about citrus, I will leave it
for when, on some occasion, I speak about education during a school term.

I have pointed this out because these successes and this success which you
are celebrating today are really reasons for encouragement and joy for all
revolutionaries.  Duque spoke of the 19th anniversary [of the revolution].
How better can one speak of the 19th anniversary than this; what better way
to remember the combatants of the country, the fallen; what better way to
remember the heroes of Giron than with this work, with these successes,
with these victories.  Therefore, comrades, we wish to express our deepest
congratulations and our recognition of the work accomplished, for the
successes achieved and the promises of the future that you students,
workers and technicians represent for our country.  With all my heart I
repeat:  We congratulate you and we expect that at a not too distant date
we will meet on a day like today to celebrate future successes.  Fatherland
or death!  We will win!  [applause]